Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans Review
What works as a TV show does not necessarily work as a movie.
Whenever I attend a movie screening, I try to watch it from the point of view of the target audience. That way I’m giving it as fair of a review as possible. With “Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans” I tried to watch it as if I were a 10-year-old boy, and according to my girlfriend, I’m close to that age in my behavior already. So, as a 10-year-old boy, I enjoyed some of the bathroom humor just as much as the next kid. But in “Horrible Histories,” the only humor involved pee, poo, and farts. Okay, maybe not only but I will say most of the jokes revolved around those items.
Horrible Histories follows Atti (Sebastian Croft), a Roman boy who fills a bottle with horse pee, then sells it as gladiator sweat to purchase some new shoes. The pee is bought and given to Nero (Craig Roberts) as a gift. Nero rubs it on his face because gladiator sweat is supposed to reduce aging. As a punishment, Nero forces Atti to join the Roman Army and sends him to Britain.
Meanwhile in Britain, Orla (Emilia Jones) wants to fight the Romans, and the only thing preventing her from doing so is her father Arghus (Nick Frost) who is the chieftain of her tribe and refuses to let her. Being a young girl wanting to prove herself she goes anyway and takes a soldier hostage. The hostage is of course Atti.
I like what “Horrible Histories” does with the books and TV series and that they take history and attempt to make it funny and dumb it down for the masses. This film, however, takes what they do on the small screen and tries to mix in some Monty Python for the big screen. However, in an era of extreme political correctness and a PG rating, all we get is a film with any jokes that might offend someone removed, leaving mostly fart jokes.
I was tolerant of the film and might have not even disliked it until the musical numbers. Once the musical numbers started, I lost all interest in the film. I noticed that Nick Frost wasn’t in any of the dancing scenes which makes me wonder if he had a clause in his contract that said he wouldn’t dance or sing. “I’ll do your stupid movie for the money but I won’t dance.” I will admit that I dislike breaking out into song in films so others might like these scenes. But the thing is, they aren’t very good. It’s like they decided to fill time in the movie by adding musical numbers. Kids love song and dance, right? Maybe, but to me, it seems they used the songs as a way of extending a TV show into a feature-length movie.
As far as I’m concerned, all this film does is prove how the world is getting dumber. The film dumbs down history for the masses in an attempt to educate but only makes us dumber for having seen it. Overall kids might like it, the 10-year-old in me wasn’t impressed. For the parents who take their kids to watch it, they will need a stiff drink after.
- Director: Dominic Brigstocke
- Written by: Caroline Norris and Giles Pilbrow
- Starring: Sebastian Croft, Emilia Jones, and Craig Roberts
- Rated: PG
- Running Time: 1 hour and 32 minutes
- Released Date: July 26th, 2019
Review by Milo Denison, the author of “How to Manage Your Manager” a satirical look at being successful in the corporate world.