IT’S ALL GONE PETE TONG (2004)
Starring: Paul Kaye, Beatriz Batarda, Kate Mogowan and Mike Wilmot
Written and Directed by: Michael Dowse
Distributed by: Matson Films
The following is not based on a true story.
One could say It’s all gone Pete Tong is just writer/director Michael Dowse trying to recreate the success of his debut feature, the cult classic Fubar. Both films do have the same structure: a mockumentary in which the lead character faces a severe health issue. But the similarities between the two films end there; except for the fact that they’re both absolutely hilarious.
In the opening montage we are introduced to Frankie Wilde (Paul Kaye), the hottest DJ in Ibiza. After a little more than a decade of being in the music business Frankie leads the kind of hedonistic lifestyle we mere mortals dream about. Dowse could have made an entire film just about this part of Frankie’s life; his orgy yacht parties, his trampy wife and son that’s obviously not his, or his coke fuelled studio sessions with touchy Austrian musicians Alfonse and Horst (aka Fubar‘s Paul Spence and David Lawrence in yes, a tad clichéd but still thoroughly amusing cameo).
Instead the film decides to explore that subject that partiers rarely like to think about: the long term affects of their lifestyle. After 11 years of non stop booze, drugs and loud music, Frankie discovers he is going deaf. This news would be an unpleasant revelation to anyone but when you make your very lucrative living off being a DJ, Frankie promptly has a nervous breakdown.
While the subject matter is presented comedically, the themes of It’s all gone Pete Tong are the serious issues of illness and addiction. With Fubar and now this film, Dowse has shown that as both a writer and director he is keenly adept at mixing comedy and drama. Paul Kaye’s performance as Frankie is obviously also crucial to keeping the balance between any moment becoming too serious or ridiculous. Kaye is so charming that he easily captivates you as an audience member.
So instead of disregarding Frankie as nothing more than an aging party boy, this character becomes a real person that you can’t help loving even when he’s at his most outrageous. This is depicted perfectly in the sequence where Frankie finally realizes he has to face up to his addictions and move on if he’s going to survive. You’d never think a dream sequence where Frankie shoots himself dressed up as the badger coke fairy would be moving, and yet it oddly is.
In the final act of the film Frankie emerges from his self-banishment healthy, yet deaf. I have a friend who complains that the film is great up until this part, because then it becomes just like every other Hollywood film. I completely disagree. Frankie manages to find happiness both in love and work, but he’s still the cheeky bastard he always was. No character in this film gives up their partying ways to become a saint. Instead they realize just like the rest of us who aren’t in our late teens or early twenties that you have to pace yourself, cause there’s a lot worth sticking around for.