Directed, produced and co-written by music promoter Dave McLean, Schemers takes viewers to 1979 Dundee, where we follow the filmmaker’s early days in the music industry. Young Davie – portrayed by Connor Berry in his breakout role – is joined by friends Scot (Sean Scott) and John (Grant Robert Keelan) as he sets on on his their ambitious business endeavours.
While McLean’s debut could have been a grand vanity project, he wisely chooses not to take his life story too seriously. The picture is colourful, vibrant, fast-paced and full of plenty of good humour, making for a joyous viewing experience. On the downside, however, it plays a little too safely into the tried-and-tested underdog formula for it stand out as anything particularly special.
From the offset, McLean gets things going at a sprint. Establishing the time, setting and tone with a playful montage of the events and aftermath of one of Davie’s many drunken nights out, the movie blasts off with a high level of energy and vivacity that doesn’t subside until the credits roll. Throw in an electrifying soundtrack appropriate for the film’s punk and rock backdrop and you have a fun-filled combination that music fans will appreciate.
Likewise, the comedy is present and correct. Being set in Dundee, the humour has that distinct Scottish flavour. And while not every joke hits, the charm with which they are delivered will nevertheless leave a grin on your face. A large part of the feature’s success is down to the lively young cast at its centre. While the script doesn’t allow much in the way of any major emotional range, the comradery and charisma shared by the actors is more than enough to carry the plot through every predictable beat.
And herein lies Schemers’ main issue: it’s far too conventional. As soon as the main characters are brought into play and the ball starts rolling you know how events will play out. The group will find success and then fall out when things start to go wrong, but – despite chaotic and comedic events – they’ll eventually pull it off in the end. It’s all been done before.
McLean’s feature doesn’t break any new ground; but it’s not supposed to. Schemers is a highly entertaining flick that’s full of a lot of heart, and that’s all that matters in this case.
Schemers is released nationwide on 25th September 2020.
Watch the trailer for Schemers here: