The Hippopotamus 2017 Movie Roger Allam as Ted Wallace and Tim McInnerny as Oliver Mills talking during dinner scene

The Hippopotamus [2017]

Based on a novel written by the almighty Stephen Fry, The Hippopotamus did not disappoint. First of all, if this is the first time you are noticing this name, you have a lot of homework. Black Adder television series is the place where I first noticed Fry and his enormous talent, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, now’s a perfect time. Perhaps in the role of his life, he was brilliant in Wilde, establishing himself as an actor and a thinker. Two documentaries follow Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive and Stephen Fry in America. Both of them are truly riveting. Now after we got that out of the way, let’s focus on this movie. It’s a cleverly written comedy/drama with a lot of different influences, but if I had to sum it up in one sentence: Unemployed poet (if there can be such a thing) and an alcoholic (same person) is sent to investigate if miracles still exist. This simple setup enabled Fry to delve deep into his thoughts and embroider the movie with a lot of interesting concepts and stories. What I found truly amazing was the pacing and structure that were flawless, enabling you to glide effortlessly through some relatively difficult subjects.

The Hippopotamus 2017 Movie Poster

Ted Wallace is a man that was doomed from the beginning. A poet who hasn’t written anything for decades is now working as a drama critic, but after one of his drunken outbursts (hilarious), he’s fired from that job too. Down on his luck, he gets a call from his goddaughter Jane who offers him a substantial sum of money to investigate Swafford Hall, a country estate where there might be something strange going on.

Filled with sexual references, juicy dialogue, British humor, black humor and an incredible amount of slapstick comedy, The Hippopotamus is a comedy that uses this to talk about “taboo” issues like sexuality, decentness, critique, illness, death and ultimately religion as the man’s last bastion of idiocy. If I insulted you and your religious beliefs, please understand that the feeling is mutual. However, the movie itself is by no means an atheist movie and it doesn’t even mention any religions at all. This is just my take from it, purely personal. Reviving the concept of poetry, dead in a modern society filled with memes, gifs, xxxchats, and the other cattle-prodding instruments (not to take away from them), the movie further explored the concept of the outcast, especially with the family as wealthy and famous as this one. Ted’s cynical, foul-mouthed and almost always correct observations were hilarious. I got a strong Hercule Poirot vibe from this movie and I’m certain that this was the intention, perhaps to draw parallels between Ted and Hercule, tasked with uncovering the mystery but going about it in many different ways.

PS From the very beginning of the movie I just could not shake the feeling that Ted Wallace and The Hippopotamus movie are about the immortal Christopher Hitchens. If you don’t know who he was, I will direct you to his Wikipedia Page. His famous debates with religious scholars (if there can be such a thing), dedicated journalism, sexual beliefs, alcoholism and the uncanny ability to vocalize his thoughts in a flurry of mighty words that combines concepts of teaching, justice, revenge and many more things that I’m not able to discern are still potent as they were when he was alive.

Director: John Jencks

Writers: Stephen Fry, Robin Hill, Tom Hodgson, Blanche McIntyre

Cast: Roger Allam, Tim McInnerny, Emily Berrington, Matthew Modine, Tommy Knight, Lyne Renee

Fun Facts: This movie contains three Game of Thrones (2011) cast members, including Roger Allam, Tim McInnerny and Sebastian Croft.


IMDb Link:

YouTube player