The musical where cocktail-sipping kids pretend to be adults has a seam of pure feelgood that makes real life feel far away
I was sitting in my living room with my big brother and dad when a loud BANG on the ceiling made us jump. “What was that?” I asked. Back in the noughties, televisions were shaped like gigantic cubes. They’d be mounted to the wall by means of a metal arm with a flat stand at the end, for the box to sit on. It transpired that the television in my parents’ bedroom had fallen from its platform. But the real tragedy was it landed on the VHS Bugsy Malone was recorded on, completely demolishing my beloved film.
The video was crushed, and so was I. The 1976 gangster musical where kids pretended to be adults and hung out in prohibition bars hidden behind bookshelves filled me with the most innocent kind of joy. Its characters were either good guys or bad guys, a binary that made sense to me as a child, when people seemed that way. It also struck me as completely logical when the bad guys renounced their evil and decided to be good guys at the end of the film. I mean, why wouldn’t you? With supposedly deadly pies encrusted on their faces, they sing: “It’s been decided / We’re weaker divided / Let friendship double up our powers,” and I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear. Then, and now.