‘Fisherman’s Friends’ Film Review

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: March 19, 2019 (Last updated: January 25, 2024)
Fisherman's Friends Film Review


Fisherman’s Friends is filled with charm, British humor, and is a true feel-good film that will make you laugh and smile.

Fisherman’s Friends is a comedy musical from director Chris Foggin (Kids in Love), starring Daniel Mays (Rogue One), James Purefoy (Sex Education) and Tuppence Middleton (Sense8), based on the real story of the Port Isaac, Cornwall band who would sing sea shanties, and who rose to international fame.

The film’s story starts by following Danny (Mays) who is on a stag do in Port Isaac, Cornwell, unaware his boss, Troy (Clarke), wants him to sign the local 10-piece Shanty band comprising of local fisherman and lifeguards as a joke. Jim (Purefoy) is considered the leader of the band, which has been part of his family for generations, including his father, with his daughter Alwyn (Middleton) running the local bed-n-breakfast. Danny must talk the whole band into working with an outsider, to surprise the industry and make chart history.

Fisherman’s Friends wants to tell a cinematic version of the true story behind the titular band, who did rise to fame in 2010 and have been part of the folk scene in the UK ever since. The trailer does give away that this was meant to be a joke, and we learn early on that Troy is treating it as one, which only Danny doesn’t know about. The idea that he must give up his knowledge of signing acts from big cities to learn the more traditional ways works very well. The involvement of the band members’ everyday life is selective, though we do see how life can get in the way of traditions for the first time, too. We do get a tacked-on romantic angle between Danny and Alwyn, which is an entertaining side story but only feels central for parts of the film, which is meant to be about the band. The story is easy enough to follow and does get to give us the introduction to the band’s success, leaving you with a feel-good feeling by the end.

Fisherman’s Friends is filled with laughs and uses the comedy to evoke that feel-good attitude. We get plenty of clashes of culture jokes, with how the locals look at outsiders, along with a few fisherman jokes. We do have a surprisingly large amount of romance dealing with Danny and Alwyn, which while a nice touch, does take the focus away from the band’s story too much. The music we hear is real to the band, lending an authentic and positive vibe, and we get a beauty of a scene seeing how the songs can bring a busy pub together.

Fisherman’s Friends has performances from Daniel Mays, who brings us the typical fast-talking music producer, handling the comedy as he has always done. Tuppence Middleton brings the local single mother that has seen her family work in the community for years and feels like a natural fit for this role. James Purefoy completes the main cast; being the leader of the band, he brings the tough side to his character while keeping his accent through the whole film. The supporting cast all do a wonderful job of feeling like they are a community.

Overall Fisherman’s Friends is a true feel-good movie; it will make you laugh, smile, and believe that anybody can have their 15 minutes of fame.

Movie Reviews, Movies