Bill (2015) Poster

(I) (2015)

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A Hilarious, Historical Comedy
thelegendoftoeses26 March 2017
I absolutely loved this film! It was incredibly funny, yet had some very heartfelt moments to it as well. The cast was great, and the jokes were just my brand of humor, although I know it's not for everyone. I love this group in Horrible Histories and Yonderland, but this has something neither of those have, it can be emotional at times, and the friendships and romance (singular) are one of the best parts of the film. A few of the reviews I've read here have been fairly negative, but I can say, I didn't like it all that much the first time I watched it, but on the second viewing I was able to experience the more subtler jokes and I fell in love. I suggest you watch it, as it is a great film for kids and Adults alike.
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Very Enjoyable
johnswhimsy25 February 2017
"Bill" is a funny movie that appeals on two levels. As an adult, I like comedy that refers to real historic events and people. But I imagine children will also enjoy the silly acting and more obvious jokes. I am an old fan of Monty Python and see similarities to that style. However, my review is as an American who has never seen "Horrible Histories" on British TV, nor was familiar with any of the actors. It appears some reviewers get hung up on that relationship. But I feel this movie entertains quite well on its own merits.
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Horrible Histories Hit The Big Screen
littlewritingmachine20 September 2015
Anyone who has studied history, and that's just about everyone, will find something to enjoy in Bill, a big screen leap for the popular TV team that expands the scope of the show without letting go of the good humour and wit beloved by millions.

Taking a cue from Shakespeare in Love, but playing the idea of the Bard's formative years in a very different way, Bill features Mathew Bayton as the young playwright, seeking his fortune in London and falling under the wing of Christopher Marlowe (Jim Howick). The historical aspect is brought to the fore as King Phillip II (Ben Willbond) concocts a scheme to eliminate Queen Elizabeth I (Helen McCrory) by gunpowder, with Bill's first play giving him a pretext to carry out his plan. Bill's excitement about seeing his work brought to the stage is tempered by a dawning realisation that he's only a pawn in a bigger political game.

Bill might well work for worldwide audiences as a cheerful parody of Shakespeare in Love, but has its own sense of comic invention. It's refreshing to see a British film with such spirited performances, with Willbond sporting several moustaches at once and his co-writer Laurence Rickard superbly deadpan as the violently anti-Catholic Walsingham. Bill never dumbs down history, but reflects it through amusingly modern updates; the castle security go to Code Woad when the believe there's a high risk of attack, and Phillip's men are subject to a search by a decidedly modern customs officer. Damien Lewis has a brief but amusing cameo, and all the performers are on point; you can tell that they've got confidence in the material, and they wring every possible laugh from it. Sneaking into cinemas with barely a breath of publicity, Bill should find a wide and appreciative audience once it finds a home on the small screen; carefully plotted and with genuine wit behind the gags, it's the best British comedy of the year. That may not be saying much, given that big-screen comedy is seemingly a lost art, but Bill is just the thing to put a rare smile on the faces of adults and children alike.
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Wacky and well done
jaster-724 March 2016
This movie was such a delightfully funny surprise. Reminiscent of Monty Python fare and wit, it totally cracked me up. Well executed, well paced, and well cast, and served up with ridiculous irreverent perfection. I got the feeling they were loving what they were doing - and I loved it too. Plus the added surprise of seeing who played who at the end. The movie takes elements of the accepted history of "Bill" (a la Shakespeare In Love) and tells very a funny story about it.

So refreshing to watch, compared to so many plot-less comedies that rely on gross out jokes, juvenile themes, and offensive language to be 'funny'. The banter is quick, the jokes and gags fresh and unexpected, the lines classic, and it contains all the twists and turns of, well, a Shakespearean comedy.

Loved it.

Best liked: Characters using Shakespearean phrases.
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A jolly good time for all the family
ebrosnan-720-85125611 October 2015
A very entertaining, irreverent take on how Shakespeare rose to fame. It's really quite silly but on the same hand quite consistent with its own internal logic. (Unlike say Pan or Prometheus which are both a narrative mess where characters completely flip- flop for no other reason than the writer was too thick or lazy to find another way to progress the plot)

King Phillip II of Spain is a joyously dickish main antagonist with some great one liners. Sir Francis Walsingham is just bizarre and Bill himself is charmingly gormless.

The film left me with a smile on my face and kinda wishing I got a few more of the Shakespeare references. It also has me randomly blurting out 'King Phillip the Second of Spain' on occasion.

Well done Team Horrible Histories!
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Brilliant Bill!
tonybracewell-4188230 September 2015
What a marvellous and magnificent film - fun for all the family. We went last weekend in a big family group, and everyone from 8 to 80 loved it.

Bill is funny, moving, hysterical, silly and warm-hearted - something for everyone!

Only some of us knew the performers from Horrible Histories and Yonderland, but they played their multiple roles to perfection. Particular favourites were Lope and Bill for the kids, King Phillip for the ladies, and the Earl of Croydon and Juan for everyone. Particular mention for Simon Farnaby, who is just wonderful in every role he plays - fans will remember his priceless museum guard in Paddington. His cameo as 'Sausage Man' will live long in the memory,

I couldn't recommend a film more strongly. Best British film this year. We'd read a 4 star review in The Sun which called Bill "the funniest film this year" - couldn't agree more!
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Following in very silly steps
neil-47624 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
There are to be peace talks between Queen Elizabeth I and King Phillip of Spain. Elizabeth wants to impress Phillip by presenting a play and the Earl of Croydon (or is it Crawley) foolishly offers his services while drunk. Fortunately, playwright William Shakespeare has just arrived in London to seek his fortune.

There is a UK TV series, based on a series of kids' books, called Horrible Histories, and this is the first cinema outing for the repertory team behind that series: as with (for instance) the Monty Python team, most of the parts are played by the same handful of actors, with cameos from Damien Lewis and Helen McCrory.

What we have is a "what might have been" story, packed with gags, most of which are a combination of silly and clever and based on anachronism (Shakespeare starts off as a member of a mandolin group called the Mortal Coils, sacked when he plays a modern guitar solo on his mandolin during a madrigal. After awkward goodbyes, one member of the group says "Well, we'll shuffle off then.") The anachronistic humour plays happily against the well realised period look of the piece – locations, costumes and sets all have a pleasingly authentic look to them.

Sitting in a (sadly) empty cinema, I giggled throughout this.
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A movie that makes you really feel good and laugh - repeated viewing advised!
AristarchosTheArchivist9 February 2019
With Bill (2015), we have a perfect example of a massively underrated film that somehow managed not to be known as an instant classic. This might have to do with the horrible (pun intended) trailer, which is a cut-up of totally out of context scenes that don't tell you anything about the movie, with werid rock music that neither matches the atmosphere nor appears in the movie at all. The equivalent would be a really bad book cover. So don't watch the trailer and jump directly to the film!

Unlike similar takes on history by Monty Python, this film does have a real plot. Actually, the plot is even twisted and well crafted like a work of Shakespeare himself, around whom the plot is centred. We get to see how "Bill" became a real writer, and we encounter conspiracy, hilarious characters and numerous funny details that make repeated viewing a real joy.

I can't put my finger on it, but it must be the joy the actors felt when making this film, which transfers to the audience at all times. The comedic group of "Horrible Histories" crafted a masterpiece of acting - at times, you really believe that the recurring actors are different people, unlike most of the characters in Monty Python's films. Add to this some very beautiful and effective cinematography that despite the slim budget manages to make the film look like an expensive period drama. The music is also contributing to that impression (they even use real lutes, sadly not music from the time).

As mentioned by other reviewers, the evil genius Philip II. of Spain played by Ben Willbond is one of the funniest characters in film history.

9 out of 10 - one missing point for detracting from realism by not using real Elisabethan music of the time, which frankly I can't understand, because the music used here tries somehow but faily to emulate the real deal. But yes, a quirky masterpiece that anyone who loves period pieces, Shakespeare, or just plain witty comedy should really check out.
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Horrible histories hits the big screen and it's funny
peterrichboy6 February 2019
Anyone familiar with BBC'S children's TV show Horrible Histories will be familiar with the format and they take it a stage further by giving it the the big screen treatment in Bill. The plot is set in Elizabethan times with Philip of Spain set to invade whilst a young Bill Shakespeare leaves Stratford to head to London to make his name and fortune. Really you don't need to know to much more, th gags come quick, and there are plenty of laughs for all. The added bonus of a couple of high profile performers in husband and wife Damian Lewis and Helen Mcrorry only add to this fun for all the family film. 8/10
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Surprisingly good
diadectes5819 November 2017
I have just watched this movie on Amazon Prime. I had never heard of it but it was free to view so I thought I would give it a try. I ended up watching it till the end (plus the credits) and really enjoyed it. It was amusing rather than funny but I laughed out loud a few times. It is a bit silly so is not recommended if you like serious films. However, if you like Monty Python and Blackadder you should like this film. I will not say anything about the story as if you are reading this you are obviously on IMDb so will probably have read the plot and a few other reviews. It is definitely worth watching and surprisingly good. More so if you are from the UK as other nationalities will miss a lot of the jokes and humour. It is also full of quotes from Shakespeare, Easter Eggs and at least one reference to a certain science fiction movie.
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A slight disappointment but might please the kids
trevorwomble20 September 2015
The Horrible histories series is not only very educational but also good fun. However what works in a half hour TV show is a huge struggle to work in a feature film. Whilst there are some good gags in the script, a lot of them fall very flat too and in this respect I couldn't help but compare it being like a PG rated the 'League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse' from about a decade ago. The cast try hard but apart from Damian Lewis (who seems very comfortable in a classic Errol Flynn type role) the rest of the cast do sometimes overact, mugging at the camera slightly too much for my liking. It's a shame but not a surprise because the film cannot seem to decide if it is an extended episode or going for a Blackadder style take on history and the script reflects this, as it is neither one nor the other.

Like I said, there are a few good laughs for kids and adults alike but it could have done with a few more as well. The idea of the story, of Shakespeare's pre-fame career, is a novel one and could have been a Monty Python style film for kids but somehow this effort feels a bit flat despite the best efforts of the cast. In this respect some of the blame must go on the script which sometimes lacks in places. Maybe youngsters will like it, fart gags and all, and it does make good use of its locations and period detail but it was not memorable which is a shame. However I hope the Horrible Histories team do get the chance to make another better film as this is isn't a disaster, more of a near miss.
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My revised review
After reading the recent review taking people who rated this film highly to task, I decided to go back and rephrase my own post. I also knocked my rating down to 7, which I hate to do because I'm a hardcore fan of the Yonderlanders*, but I also don't want to disappoint people who come to Bill expecting Monty Python and the Holy Grail and are horribly disappointed.

No, the Yonderlanders aren't Monty Python. Having a comedic style evolved from performing together in a BBC educational children's show rather than from Oxbridge revues, and being young enough to be the Pythons' grandkids, their style of humor is more millennial: more sharply focused and socially responsible.

This film is probably not the best introduction to the art of the Yonderlanders. It's much slower and more structured than their TV work. Horrible Histories is a slam-bang Sesame Street-style variety show, and Yonderland reminds me of nothing so much as an updated version of the classic Harvey Kurtzman era Mad Comics, packed with so many gags you need to study them with a magnifying glass to catch them all. I think established fans of the Yonderlanders' work will like this and "get" it in a way newcomers probably won't.

*my term for the core group of performer-writers in large part responsible for the brilliant first five seasons of the live action Horrible Histories franchise, who later branched out on their own with the phenomenal comedy series Yonderland and feature film Bill: Matt Baynton, Simon Farnaby, Martha Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick, Laurence Rickard, and Ben Willbond.
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Kill Bill.
morrison-dylan-fan28 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Talking to a friend about what her kids had recently become interested in,she mentioned that along with the Goosebumps books that they had recently been watching the BBC series Horrible Histories a lot.Taking a look round a local DVD shop a few days later,I was happily surprised to discover that the Horrible Histories team had made a movie!,which led to me getting ready to meet Bill.

The plot:

Sacked by his band Mortal Coil, William 'Bill' Shakespeare starts to think about what job he can now do.Since he has written a play over the last few years, Shakespeare decides to go against the wishes of his wife Anne Hathaway and leave Stratford-upon-Avon to make his name as a playwright in London.As Shakespeare gets advice on entering the stage world from Christopher Marlowe and gets offered funding from Juan, Earl of Croydon, King Phillip II of Spain starts making plans to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I.

View on the film:

Following Shakespeare round London in a great tracking shot which breaths in the muck covering London,director Richard Bracewell and cinematographer Laurie Rose cast an enchanting atmosphere,by giving the title a sweet quirky appearance,where all of the historical figures look like they have one foot in a fantasy world. Splinting by its 90 minute running time,the superb screenplay by Laurence Rickard & Ben Willbond release the Barb's sonnet at lightning speed.

Joyfully playing around with historical facts, (a ghost Christopher Marlowe!) Rickard and Willbond thread witty wordplay with cheerfully silly visual puns and catchy songs.Whilst the jokes bounce across the screen,the writers keep the footlights lit with a slick plot which links Shakespeare plays with masters of disguise and assassination attempts.Leaping to the big screen,the ensemble cast each give superb performances.Each taking on multiple roles,the cast give each part a unique quality,from Simon Farnaby making the Earl of Croydon desperate to be a socialite,to Mathew Baynton making "Bill" (who is pals with "Chris" Christopher Marlowe!) a wide-eyed fool,as Bill discovers the horrible histories.
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Absolutely Stunning. On every level!
rocket-russ-8331919 August 2018
I'll start by saying that I think if I were left alone in the wilderness with only one film to watch, this would almost certainly be it! Expectations are set against the extremely high bar that this troupe of guided actors and writers have delivered in other projects (Horrible Histories, Yonderland) and this film goes much, much further. Every character offers a layer of brilliance, some only fleeting, but all adding to the web of comedy that keeps the viewer laughing from beginning to end. The ability to play numerous roles in the same production has been mastered by the "Six Idiots" and they show that they are at the flagship end of modern British comedy. "Bill" follows the legendary figure of Shakespeare through a period of time that remains undocumented, offering what should be clear from the outset, plenty of artistic license and freedom. The story forms the backbone of the film, but as we have come to love of this team, there are plenty of small side-sketches and pockets of beautifully written and performed gags. Rickard and Willbond deliver a script that their closest peers have delivered with perfection, both planned and ad-libbed. The soundtrack is so good that it may almost be overlooked, helping provide an almost edible depth to every scene. It is worth listening to alone, to fully appreciate the brilliance of the compositions. Finding new jokes on the fourth or fifth viewing of this masterpiece will make you realise how very clever the production is. And yet still inspires its audience to follow up on it's curiosity and pick up the interest in the past where "Horrible Histories" left off.
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Will Shakes Peer
writers_reign23 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The last thing that anyone connected with this project could claim is originality and nor, I would imagine, would anyone do so. The concept of spoof histories can be traced at least as far back as 1066 And All That and, for all I know, even further. We've also had The Complete Plays of Shakespeare in 87 Minutes, and latterly Horrible Histories out of which the current feature, Bill, has evolved and your reaction to it will very much depend on your appreciation and/or tolerance of the genre. I tend to agree with the opinions I've read that this is a one-joke idea attempting to flesh out a Bumper Fun Book and falling short by about ten chapters. The law of averages weighs in with roughly a pennyweight of half-decent gags but then, dear viewer, you're on your own.
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Great fun throughout
rcmead-2598331 January 2018
Ben Willbond's Philip of Spain is a genius comic creation. It's worth watching the film for him alone but on top of that it's a great film with plenty of classic moments and obscure references stuffed into it. A Python-esque comedy in the silliest English tradition.
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Do not be fooled by the good reviews.
Iusnas26 April 2016
The film itself starts with a very promising premise and the trailer will certainly entertain the notion that the film will be rather funny.

However you are quickly pushed into the sense that the people making the film would be better suited for making a quick twenty to thirty minute skit than a movie. Disjointed low brow jokes that may be funny to children fell flat repeatedly.

This is one of the few films that I did not watch fully as I could not force myself to sit through the terrible attempt at trying to be Monty Python and failing miserably. Do not trust the good reviews the film is terrible, save your money.
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for children
Kirpianuscus7 April 2017
a film who could be interesting only for the efforts of actors. a simple parody, not high ambitions, alternative history in style of Monty Python. and, at the first sigh, this is all. good opportunity for remember the different actresses in the role of Elisabeth I, the meritorious job of Matthew Baynton as decent Shakespeare , the references to plays and Spain - England conflict, a film for looking, again and again, scene by scene, its purpose and good kick for young readers to discover the universe of the great Will. and this is, maybe, the most important virtue of film.
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Something of an indulgence
davidallenxyz-102-62924924 September 2016
Can't help but feel that the motivation for making this was Shakespeare's anniversary rather than the strength of the storyline.

The ensemble cast are excellent in Horrible Histories and I enjoy their individual comedy outings too. This is not in the same vein. It raises a chuckle but is not a comedy, and it is not a family film either. It has the whiff of an exercise in ticking boxes.

There is a strand of a plot in there, but a lot of it becomes muddled and there is an unnecessarily juvenile aspect to some of the humour. VReminds me a little too much of the sixth-form common room. Production values are good, as are the performances. But it is essentially forgettable, whereas Horrible Histories is a work of genius.
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chris_ffelan10 May 2019
I like Horrible Histories, but this was awful. Probably the worst film I've ever seen. Whoever wrote the script needs to be kept a long way away from pens in future.
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