I’ve seen a few sports documentaries before, mainly ESPN’s 30 for 30’s and I’ve seen a few mockumentaries. 7 Days in Hell showcases both sides of the coin, directed by Jake Szymanski and featuring Kit Harrington and Andy Samberg as the two subjects of the ‘documentary’.
This mockumentary is based on a fictional seven day marathon match between Aaron Williams and Charles Poole, that occurred during the 2001 Wimbledon Championships. The two characters aren’t cut from the same cloth either, Charles coming from privileged background, whereas Aaron coming from the streets and ending up in the care of the Williams family. Serena explains that they reversed The Blind Side and took this white kid and made him a tennis star. Aaron is the bad-boy of tennis, sporting an outrageous haircut whilst storming out of interviews is all familiar ground for Aaron Williams.
Charles Poole’s (Kit Harrington) story is different. At a young age, he was a prodigy to the tennis world, although he was forced into the tennis world by his mother, even citing that she’ll never love him if he’s number two. So much so, that he forgoes his education and gets an education in big rig driving, so he can focus on his tennis career.
In the short forty-five minute mockumentary, it recounts the two tennis players lives from early childhood up until the 2001 first round match. Aaron Williams life is far more exciting as he loses 1996 Wimbledon final after killing an umpire and blowing a 2 set, 5 game lead. Whereas Charles Poole is simply England’s poster boy in the tennis world, but always answering with the word ‘indubitably’ when he is struggling with a question.
It has an assortment of stars playing characters, such as Mary Steenburgen as Charle’s mother, Will Forte as a tennis historian (Who also comes up with the name 7 Days in Hell) and June Squibb playing the Queen of England. It also features John McEnroe, Serena Williams, David Copperfield and Chris Evert, as themselves recounting the match and moments in their lives involving Aaron and Charles.
This mockumentary strangely works, even though some of the scenes in the short film are downright ridiculous, it still feels like a real documentary regardless of the validity of the story. The recounting of each of the seven days is thoroughly entertaining too, which includes a threesome on the court, Aaron being hit by a big rig truck and the Queen assaulting Charles in an elevator, because why not?
These are the kind of laughs that can be expected in a comedy driven by Andy Samberg, but it was rather refreshing to see Kit Harrington is something other than a serious drama (especially after the most recent season of Game of Thrones). With it’s run time of around forty-five minutes it isn’t too taxing to watch and fairly refreshing considering the nature of the mockumentary. I was thoroughly entertained throughout and as far as mockumentaries go, this one works very well with the inclusion of footage throughout their respective careers and Aaron Williams brief stint in a Swedish prison (watch out for this scene, it’s rather odd and probably not for the feint-hearted).
As with all documentaries, there is that finishing, lasting message. After the match has finished with them both surprisingly killing each other in a fight (prompted by none other than the Queen), there is a resounding respect that is had for the tennis players opponent. This is shown by the inclusion of more footage during their respective interviews before their showdown at Wimbledon.
For those wanting to watch it, I believe it is being showcased on Sky Atlantic tonight (10/07/15) at 10:10pm.