Dir:Alex De Rakoff. UK-US-Fr. 2004. 89mins.
Orlando Bloom's post-Lord Of The Rings appeal will be sorely testedby The Calcium Kid, a title fight mockumentary that packs a puny punch.A world removed from the genre-defining classics of Christopher Guest and histroupe, this uninspired effort has more in common with parochial British farelike Mike Bassett England Manager.

Box-officemay struggle when the film starts its UK theatrical release on April 30. Theadult certificate (15) could deter the Bloom fans most likely to constitute its core audience andword of mouth is unlikely to sustain initial interest once they discover thenature of the film. Globally, its unlikely to make an impression.

Achirrupy, South London milkman, Bloom's Jimmy Connelly is accidentallyresponsible for putting Britain's middleweight hopeful out of action one weekbefore a match with world boxing champion Jose Mendez (Pena). Sleazy, secondrate promoter Herbie Bush (Djalili) is so desperate to find a replacement thathe chooses Jimmy. Documentary film-maker Sebastian Gore Brown (Mark Heap)senses the opportunity of a lifetime and trains his camera on Jimmy and hiscronies in the seven days leading up to the bout.

Whatfollows is a broad brushstrokes mockumentary filled with hand-me-downcharacters and predictable situations, including the inevitable training runthrough the neighbourhood streets to the strains of the Rocky theme. Thesketchy screenplay lurches between different plot elements without developing astrong sense of purpose or momentum. The audience is asked to take a good dealfor granted as Jimmy suddenly develops some backbone or a marginal romanticinterest somehow blossoms into marriage.

Thefilm lacks the memorable set pieces or belly laughs for a crowd-pleasing comedyand the whole set up is so wildly improbable that its impossible to take itseriously. A subplot covering Jimmy's relationship with his jailbird fatherfails to deepen our emotional attachment to the character or his fate.

Evenwith a relatively brisk running time, the film drags and grows tiresome as weare subject to the underhand dealings of fight promoter Bush, theunconventional methods of Jimmy's drunken Irish trainer or his prostitutemother's insistence that she is merely a massage therapist. At least we arespared a triumphant showdown in the ring for the film's climax.

DirectorAlex De Rakoff indulges all the faux documentary staples of wobbly, handheldcamerawork, direct-to-camera asides and fly-on-the-wall embarrassment but whatonce seemed fresh and funny now appears stale and obvious.

Jokecameos from boxers Frank Bruno and Chris Eubank and the presence of local nameslike Ronni Ancona and Billie Piper might add some extra appeal for Britishaudiences but internationally Bloom remains the main attraction. His eager butunremarkable performance is likely to be judged a minor, homegrown diversionbetween major blockbuster roles.

Prodcos: WT2,StudioCanal, Universal
UK dist:
W'wide dist:
Exec prods:
Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner
Richard Johns
DerekBoyle, Alex De Rakoff, Raymond Friel
DavidM Dunlap
MargueriteArnold, Jon Harris
Prod des:
Joel Collins
TheBoilerhouse Boys
Main cast:
Orlando Bloom, Omid Djalili, Michael Pena, Rafe Spall, DavidKelly, Michael Lerner, Ronni Ancona, Billie Piper