If one were to review films purely in terms of originality, most films would not even receive the smallest pat on the back. Originality, in fact, comes along as often as a director with a small ego. Yet what one is generally looking for is not for any given film-maker to reinvent cinema but what he does with a set of clichés. Will he lift them with his own imagination or simply be flattened by them?
The former is potently true in "There's Only One Jimmy Grimble", in which a bullied, put-upon Manchester schoolboy (Lewis McKenzie) knows he has considerable football skills but lacks the confidence to express them in front of others until, that is, a tramp (Jane Lapotaire) gives him a pair of magic boots. He then begins to triumph in the most unlikely circumstances (as when the entire, super-violent Psychopaths team is bearing down on him), sees off the school thug on the field, becomes popular for the first time and actually begins to smile.
Another case of a no-hope Northerner clambering over massive hurdles and succeeding? "The Full Monty" Part 93? Of course. However, director John Hay develops each of his strands very fully and ensures that they are interwoven at just the right moments, and never slickly. Jimmy's own insecurity and misery, for example, is reflected in the sports teacher (Robert Carlyle) who has no speck of light in his life except for occasionally, secretly, bathing in past glories.
Hay also ensures that the roles he offers his cast carry a decent amount of emotional and psychological weight and that he has good enough actors to interpret them. Robert Carlyle, for once leaving his familiar intensity on the back burner, excels as a defeated sap, Ray Winstone (as Jimmy's mum's former boyfriend) is quietly powerful as (almost) the sole sign of decency, and Lewis McKenzie communicates Jimmy's every thought and emotion with huge passion. There's also always room for the odd burst of humour, and Ben Miller, as Mum's genial but idiotic biker boyfriend (who treasures his Harley Davidson aftershave), is an amusingly eccentric joy.