Grow Your Own is a gentle sweet-smelling comedy that is blessed with plenty of British charm, but isn't likely to bother the box office in a hurry. Set in the North of England, a bunch of grumpy old men spend their days nurturing their beloved allotments, while passing comment on their neighbours' vegetables. They're less than happy when a family of asylum seekers move in on their precious patch.
Director Richard Laxton's previous outing, the urban drama Life And Lyrics made for compelling, edgy viewing, whereas Grow Your Own yearns for a nostalgic past that would make it more at home on a Sunday afternoon TV schedule. A decent cast is hampered by stereotypical stock characters, including small-minded bully and self-appointed chairman Big John (Phillip Jackson), and the world-weary Kenny (Alan Williams), who is hiding the fact his wife has left him. The new residents meanwhile, are far too calm and polite to make their characters believable.
"AN ANTIDOTE TO GRITTY BRITISH FILMS"
Frank Cottrell Boyce's script isn't short of a few witty one-liners, but they fail to compensate for an under-developed plot that seems to rest on its laurels. The main problem arises when the film attempts to address social issues. Boyce's idea of social tension boils down to a simple disagreement over the colour of the sheds, rather than tackling the root of the problem within small communities. Hence, while it works as an antidote to the gritty realism of recent British films, Grow Your Own's twee optimism is sometimes a little too much to digest.
Grow Your Own is released in UK cinemas on Friday 15th June 2007.