Film Review: Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans (2019)

With an all-star cast, Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans is a perfectly good piece of family entertainment

“All say yah
Bou-dic-ca”

Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans is my first experience of the multimedia franchise and as a piece of light-hearted entertainment, I thought it was rather good fun. It is especially notable for getting quite the company together to have a rollicking good time of it, Kim Cattrall and Rupert Graves rub shoulders, Sam Spiro pops in for a cameo as do any number of British comics, and no less than Derek Jacobi reprises his (I,) Claudius.

It’s all in aid of a kid-friendly rendition of Boudicca’s rebellion against the Roman rulers, told from the perspective of a dorky Roman kid (Sebastian Croft’s Atti) who finds himself conscripted into the army sent to defend their British territories and Orla (Emilia Jones) a teenage rebel Celt who is determined to be a warrior like her flame-haired rival. And in pairing them up in a rather charming way, it entertains in a pleasingly unexpected way.

Written by the rather marvellous Jessica Swale, with Giles Pilbrow and Caroline Norris, the storytelling is peppered with sprightly pop songs, (suiting Kate Nash’s Boudicca down to the ground). And if outright humour is sometimes a little thin on the ground, that kinda feels right for a target audience that feels younger than perhaps I’d realised. Craig Roberts’ scowling teen Nero is good value for money too, and I liked the late appearance of Rattus Rattus to guide us through what was fact and fiction in what we’d just seen – no fake news here kids!

Photo: Nick Wall

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