In 2019, Cornwall’s sea shanty group Fisherman’s Friends got the Full Monty treatment, when the story of how they hit the big time after a record exec discovered them singing down their local pub inspired a good-humoured harmless comedy. One the major charms of Fisherman’s Friends is their authenticity: a bunch of mates singing for pleasure and for each other is a world away from manufactured pop. So, it was a bit of shame that the original film had that slightly flavourless taste of a factory-made British feelgood comedy. That goes double for this sequel.
A chunk of the very likable cast is back. James Purefoy returns as lead singer Jim, who has hit the bottle after the death of his dad, Fisherman’s co-founder Jago, at the end of the first movie. There are more problems when one of the group’s more senior singers, Leadville (Dave Johns), makes inappropriate comments to a female journalist. A humourless media trainer arrives in Port Isaac, taking exception to being called “my darling”.
A couple of scenes here poking fun at cancel culture and wokeness briefly make the move a little less good-natured than the original, before it settles into a kinder message of embrace-your-differences and hug-a-stranger togetherness. Next on the train from London is label manager Leah, played with warmth and a nicely timed eye-roll by Jade Anouka, who makes every scene she appears in feel 75% more real.
Despite Leah’s best efforts, the band is dropped after a disastrous press conference at which Jim drunkenly loses his rag. The weakest part of the film follows as he slopes off to lick his wounds and make eyes at an Irish rocker with a Chrissie Hynde fringe (Imelda May). Meanwhile, Jim’s mum cracks a plan for a Glastonbury gig to save the band.
This is a well-made film and nice looking, but there’s a tiresome predictability to a few too many scenes. It is a franchise that feels like it’s hit the rocks.
• Fisherman’s Friends: One and All is released on 19 August in cinemas.