There are movies that make you laugh, and movies that make you cry.
There are movies that move you, movies that thrill you, and movies that make
you think. Then there are movies that teach you valuable lessons about
life. The Flying Scotsman is one such movie. It will teach you exactly how many
times you can yawn in 96 minutes.
The Flying Scotsman is a true story based on the life of Scottish cyclist
Graeme Obree (Jonny Lee Miller) who smashed the World one hour cycling
record in 1993. Assisted by his close friend and manager Malky (Billy
Boyd), Obree built his own record breaking bicycle out of scrap metal and
parts of a washing machine. The amateur cyclist then had his world title
stripped from him, and the struggles that followed led to a dark slide into
This "underdog" story is the first feature film directed by television
veteran Douglas Mackinnon (whose credits include a multitude of series such
as "Bodies" and "Silent Witness", as well as the brilliant 2001
telemovie "Gentlemen's Relish" with Billy Connolly). What should be an inspiring
story is marred by decidedly uninspired performances by Jonny Lee Miller
("Trainspotting", "Aeon Flux", and Angelina Jolie's husband for 4
years) and Billy Boyd ("Lord of the Rings", "Master and Commander"). The story is based on Graeme Obree's dark autobiography, which stands out among books by
athletes because it is not ghost written - he actually wrote it himself
as part of his therapy. Obree wrote about his illness and subsequent
suicide attempts in an extremely direct and intense way, although in the film
the subject lacks depth and almost feels like an afterthought.
While watching the film, you may experience a strange feeling of deja vu, a
feeling that you have seen it before. You may even begin to think that you
have developed some strange power that lets you see into the future,
and you may astound your friends by predicting what is going to happen next.
But chances are they will have got tired of yawning and already fallen
The main problem with The Flying Scotsman is that the "Athletic
Underdog" storyline has already been done many times, and in much more satisfying ways. Think of "Cool Runnings" and "The World's Fastest Indian (Mit
Hand Und Herz)" for example. The producers compare The Flying Scotsman to the
stunning 1996 movie "Shine", which also dealt with themes of mental
illness and overcoming adversity. But "Shine" had brilliant acting, a
compelling storyline, characters I really cared about, and themes that had impact. The Flying Scotsman has big gaps of nothing, like a 7 year old's teeth.
In The Flying Scotsman, Graeme Obree breaks a World Cycling Record for
the number of times he can go around a track in one hour. I think the World
Yawning Record is much more exciting. It stands at 57 yawns in 96
minutes, and was set by me during this film. I challenge anyone to beat it
without falling asleep.