Hot on the heels of Fighting with my Family comes yet another true story that I feel as though I should have known more about beforehand, but didn’t. Fisherman’s Friends tells the story of a group of singing Cornish fishermen who, in 2010, managed to not only land themselves a top 10 album but an appearance on Glastonbury’s pyramid stage too! The story of their rise to success follows a much more formulaic and clichéd approach than Fighting with my Family does though, not quite managing to come close to the high bar that particular movie set. But still fairly enjoyable all the same.
We begin by joining a group of four men as they prepare to head out on a stag do to the beautiful village of Port Isaac in Cornwall. A&R man Danny (Daniel Mays), his loud and annoying record exec boss Troy (Noel Clarke) and a couple of their colleagues all arrive in the small fishing village for the weekend, immediately finding themselves on the wrong side of the locals. Driving the wrong way down a narrow one way street, foolishly ordering lager instead of bitter in the local pub (they don’t serve fizzy drinks there) and finding themselves in need of rescuing after their wreckless weekend antics results in them all being stranded at sea. City types who think they know it all, but haven’t got a clue…
The fishermen that came to rescue the lads turn out to be part of a popular local singing group – singing sea shanties together while working out at sea and occasionally putting on small concerts for the locals down on the harbour. It’s while performing one of those gigs that Danny and his friends come across them all as a group. After a few moments of watching them, Troy tells Danny that he wants him to go over and sign them up, and that he’s not to take no for an answer. Off he goes, not knowing that it’s all just a big joke and while his three colleagues all return home, Danny is left behind in Cornwall, struggling to convince the group that their unique sound is going to make them all big stars.
Out of the group of fishermen, only a handful of them are really explored and fleshed out as characters in any kind of way, with the majority of them simply fading into the background. Jim (James Purefoy) and his father Jago (David Hayman), are the main focus of the movie, along with Jim’s single-mum daughter Alwyn (Tuppence Middleton), who Danny begins to strike up a friendship with, and her young daughter. One of the other fishermen runs the local pub at the heart of the community, along with his wife, but is struggling to make ends meet in a sub-plot which comes to a head later on in the movie.
Fisherman’s Friends is a movie full of clichés – the city slicker who initially doesn’t understand or appreciate the simple life, the familiar rom-com couple who start off by disliking one another, but who are clearly going to be falling madly in love before long, the annoying city types who don’t even look like they know how to tie their own shoelaces, let alone become successfully music moguls. But, despite it all, the movie works considerably well. The relationship and chemistry between Danny and Alwyn is genuinely believable, and the highs and lows that the group go through on their journey to stardom is both heartwarming and fun in equal measure. It’s the kind of reliable movie you could quite happily sit and watch on the TV one lazy Sunday afternoon.