Adapted from a novel of the same name, The Hippopotamus takes murder mystery tropes, keeps the mystery, substitutes murder and gives us a gloriously odious washed up poet Poirot to reckon with. Roger Allam’s Ted Wallace is pompously appealing from the first frame, lacing his cyanide dipped voiceover with luxuriant expletives, intellectual entitlement and an abundant surplus of vulgar vocabulary.
As the screen opens we are instantly greeted by the huffy Ted Wallace. Presented with a delightfully promising diegesis, Stephen Fry’s first screen adaption quickly becomes mysteriously investing. With Roger Allam - playing a disgruntled poet-turned-theatrical critic who presents a likeable, convivial charm that occasionally bursts through his bitterly and waspish personality - we are unexpectedly drawn into the situation by virtue of his realistically poignant performance.
Attention, please: For anyone who savors the English language in all its succulent, incisive, trippingly-off-the-tongue glory, Stephen Fry-- one of the great humorists of our time -- is back with an adaptation of his comic novel THE HIPPOPOTAMUS, brought to the screen by director John Jencks and a quartet of writers that includes Blanche McIntyre, Tom Hodgson, John Finnemore, and Robin Hill.... However you choose to view, do make sure you see it.
The gorgeous cinematography that extends beyond a hilariously bad "Julius Caesar" featuring ripped gladiators in little more than gold lame Speedos to the spectacular interiors and exteriors of the massive country home where most of the action occurs makes purchasing this one in Blu-ray a no-brainer.
"Part English comedy of manners and part country house mystery with mocking references to Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes… the film remains funny, even hysterically so as the cutaways graphically visualize things so often left to be implied without condescending to the gross-out levels of American comedy."