Movie Review
Mr. Scruff : No Pies for Two Hundred Yards DVD


Director: Mr. Scruff
Cast: Mr. Scruff

either Mr. Scruff’s potato-chip cartoons for tykes aged 20-35, his obsession with pies, nor his five-hour plus DJ sets are what makes this documentary special. It’s the spat between a prima donna raver and Scruff’s roadie Byron. One of his gigs gets hijacked by a horde of dolled-up, Ministry of Sound refugees at a quarter to four in the morning. They were forbidden to set foot onstage. One lass adorned in torn silver lame huffs about not being able to perform “hip-hop and street dance” in front of our man, after she spent so much greenback on her costume and practiced for months for it. Shots of glum ravers watching the stage are flashed. “Well I spoke to the DJ,” the lass pauses. “And he said that dancers weren’t his thing.” As her argument mounts with Bryon, he later carps, “I think this is about you and your ego…my conclusion is that you don’t understand the full picture; nice to meet you!”

A book of poetry was written there.

The documentary No Pies for Two Hundred Yards mainly covers Andy Carthy (Mr. Scruff)’s three-day UK tour during the summer of 2004. His good timey, crate-mined jazz-funk deftly sets the mood as we see his vice of tea drinking and a short tour of his Manchester turf where he introduces us to Stockport Viaduct, buys rare grooves at the shop (saying that he blows some 2000 quid on them a month), and mumbles about hometown greats influencing him like New Order and the feted Hacienda club, along with his b-boy past.

Later in the film, Carthy gives us a day on the town that could be easily forgotten after booze flows that night. Interviews with comrades and cheerleaders like Gilles Peterson and The Guardian’s Alexis Petridis do not really say much except how genuine our man is and how he sets a good example for our children. Petridis argues that he is a blessing in our age of dance music being in decline. True, his house music’s giddiness and a keen sense of jazz and house history are belie any dismissal of cheap escapism and bled-dry formulas. The problem is that his work is so intertwined with his potato people, as sold on endless merch like aprons and kettles, his cuteness risks an expiration date.

Strangely enough, No Pies lacks information about his cartoon clips that make his music videos so engrossing. They appear like flashes between Sesame Street segments as the video shows; mainly showing street bustle. We get a few scenes where Carthy does some quick doodles that end up getting projected on curtains behind his DJ booth, but little else. “Um, I ate a lot of potatoes, but I don’t know if that’s such an influence,” Carthy tells a bird after his gig at the London Forum. Aside from Carthy’s trip to the record shop, little is also revealed about his music that hep enough to hawk minivans and $35 under-sized T-shirts at boutiques.

Is this documentary worth more than one viewing for you and your entire family? Not quite. But while its charm lasts, you’ll get a box of snapshots of Carthy, a likable bloke whose affection for potatoes is perhaps best left unspoken.

By: Cameron Macdonald
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