After successfully introducing Sasha Baron Cohen’s comedy creation Ali G to audiences 13 years ago, Channel 4’s The 11 O’Clock Show tried their luck with an array of new characters, including Bulla – a cockney ‘hardman’ performed by Ricky Grover. Bulla essentially flopped, so why, 11 years after his small screen debut, has Grover decided to revive Bulla for comedy feature Big Fat Gypsy Gangster (2011) – and what is X-Factor’s Tulisa Contostavlos doing here?
Apparently, Grover’s Bulla has had some success on the comedy circuit, gaining fans such as Ray Winstone, Michael Parkinson and even the late Bob Monkhouse. What’s more, you only have to look at the British comic actors that appear in Big Fat Gypsy Gangster to get an idea of his popularity, including Rufus Hound, Omid Djalili and Peter Capaldi.
Big Fat Gypsy Gangster plays out as a mockumentary following Bulla after he is released from prison. He quickly finds that his Aunt Queenie’s (Laila Morse) pub is to be shut down and that Kevin Mason (Eddie Webber), the policeman who gave him 16 years in porridge, is now a crooked cop running the streets. Bulla immediately goes to work trying to reclaim his old neighbourhood.
The biggest problem with Big Fat Gypsy Gangster is that it simply isn’t funny, in any shape or form. The majority of the film features Bulla screaming and shouting at various cast members, which fails to raise even the weakest of smiles. Bulla is a completely unlikeable lead character, and his supporting cast of characters – even those played by genuinely talented comedians – are all annoying, crass and, most importantly, deeply unfunny. Big Fat Gypsy Gangster also claims to feature the “debut film performance” of N-Dubz singer and X-Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos – if you can call a 5-second cameo of singing and swearing a “film performance”.
Grover’s Big Fat Gypsy Gangster is an appalling film, as badly-written, and poorly-acted as any you’ll see this year – a total load of Bulla.