DVD REVIEW: ASHENS AND THE QUEST FOR THE GAMECHILD / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: RIYAD BARMANIA / SCREENPLAY: STUART ASHEN, RIYAD BARMANIA / STARRING: STUART ASHEN, WARWICK DAVIS, ROBERT LLEWELLYN, VICTORIA BROOM, DAN TOMLINSON, CHRIS KENDALL, CHRIS BINGHAM, MILLIE REEVES, SULE RIMI / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Stuart Ashen is best known for his YouTube videos in which he sarcastically reviews tat on his brown sofa under the cunning pseudonym Ashens, though you may also know him through his sketch comedy. Ashens and the Quest for the GameChild is a humorous science fiction caper that casts this unlikely celebrity as an Indiana Jones-like seeker of pointless artefacts, specifically the Gamechild which in this movie is a super rare handheld games console. In reality, it is a rather worthless bit of tat, that’s the joke.
For those unfamiliar with the Ashens channel, this is a deeply silly and laugh-out-loud screwball comedy, filled with pop culture references and some rather strange characters. Those in the cult of Ashens will recognise the likes of rubbish corporate mascot Chef Excellence and camp villain The Silver Skull. The feature manages to squeeze these things in without confusing the uninitiated; a chap in a silver mask and nylon moustache playing a synthesiser is going to be funny regardless of context after all. Though at times it feels like a series of skits stitched together with a very broad plot, it’s the performance of both Mr Ashen and his sidekick, played by the excellent Dan Tomlinson, that keeps it all together. Highlights include an animated sequence by Oli Putland and a theme song by Harry Partridge, a surprise appearance by Warwick Davies and a suitably silly performance from Red Dwarf’'s Robert Llewellyn.
If all of this sounds familiar, be aware that Ashens and the Quest for the GameChild is a remastered version of the movie that was launched on YouTube, with the original production costs met through crowd-funding and multi-platform firm Channel Flip. Every penny spent can be seen on the screen and for a small-budget flick, the result is pretty fantastic. The movie will also stay available (for free) on the internet, though the DVD/Blu-ray features upgraded sound and picture quality and a few extra bits (mostly jokes) have been added. They’ve also stuffed the disc full of very silly extras. The art gallery tour is particularly daft and filled with Ashens’ trademark sarcasm. Over all, this a great little movie that could well be the start of a new wave of British comedy.
Extras: Behind the Scenes / Life Through a Lens / Rob Llewellyn Interview / Stormtrooper Costume Tour / GameChild Commercial / Art Gallery Tour / Outtakes / Character Profiles / Trailer / Deleted Scenes / Director and Actor Commentary