Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This (2014)
Tommy Cooper was a much-loved British comic whose act as a bumbling magician who told jokes that any self-respecting dad would be embarrassed by endeared him to audiences everywhere. Though his personal life may have not been overly dramatic, the manner of his death certainly was. Which probably accounts for why this biopic dedicates a quarter of its running time to the day of his demise.
In keeping with this approach, the early years of Cooper’s life are entirely bypassed. By the time we encounter him in an Egyptian bazaar, he is already a successful comic about to embark on a fruitful television career. Yet Cooper’s inability to give up the stage leads to the employment of a personal assistant named Mary who, just like that, becomes his lover. Meanwhile Cooper’s wife enjoys the comfort of life after touring, blissfully unaware of Mary’s existence… until the rumours inevitably surface.
Aided by Cooper’s ability to get away with repeating the same old gag again and again, Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This ably presents the comic’s greatest hits, with David Threlfall generating genuine laughs with his recreations of Cooper’s routines. Yet despite professing he’s not one of those clowns who are crying on the inside, Threlfall’s Cooper seems perpetually crestfallen off stage. Though he may suffer (as his agent observes) from a bad case of the funnies, when he's not performing Cooper cuts a rather gloomy figure. This is only exacerbated by his heavy drinking, which takes its toll on both his professional and personal life.
By the time that fateful day in April 1984 arrived it was becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between the shambolic act and his actual missteps on stage. Nevertheless, as he did for most of his career, Cooper left ‘em laughing.
as Tommy Cooper
as Eric Sykes
as Eric Morecambe
as Les Dennis
“My father would be utterly horrified to see how he’s been portrayed as a vicious and violent alcoholic… His lover Mary wrote a book saying he had hurt her just to make money… She was bitter as she’d been missed out of the will.”