Paul Kerr (Craig Ferguson) is a washed up rock star who spends his time getting drunk in his Welsh country mansion, but tonight he goes too far. After dancing around to his jukebox he takes his motorbike and rides it through the corridors until losing control he smashes through an upstairs window, landing in the ornamental fountain. He is found unconscious the next morning by his gardener and housekeeper and whisked away to hospital where after he is patched up, a psychiatrist (Imelda Staunton) is assigned to him. But he has a bigger surprise than that coming: a teenage daughter (Charlotte Church) he never knew he had...
Back in the nineteen-sixties, just about every British band or singer with a recording contract would be plonked down into their own spin off, cash in film, but the trend went out of fashion in the seventies, where it would more likely be a concert movie that would be released to sell albums. Nevertheless, every so often a British music star will appear in their own film, and so it was that Charlotte Church got to appear here in writer-director-actor Craig Ferguson's light comedy. This was back when Church was seen as wholesome, of course, and before she turned responsible mum in her battles with the tabloids.
They say that every comedian wants to be a rock star, every rock star wants to be an actor and every actor wants to be a comedian, but here funnyman Ferguson got to be all three thanks to a plot of his own devising, one of a series of comedies he wrote the script for that he also starred in. In truth, this is far more his film than Church's whose fans would be let down when she only appears in about half the scenes, the others being more concerned with Sunday night T.V. drama-level family conflicts. For Paul has a family he never knew of, and the story crawls towards a reunion between them all.
Or a union, because they were never together in the first place. Olivia (Church) was the product of a wild weekend spent in a hotel room with Paul and her mother, Rebecca (Jemma Redgrave), and although she tried to contact him, the record execs ensured that Paul never got Rebecca's letters so he was never aware he is a father. Along with this is a storyline that sees Paul try to kick his alcoholism, although it doesn't appear to hinder him at all, bikes out of windows apart, as he's pretty much the same at the beginning of the film as he is at the end.
Presumably because Church is famously Welsh, there was no point in having her try a different accent, so half the cast put on Welsh accents to compensate, the oddest being Joss Ackland as Olivia's grandfather. He is an ageing rocker - he looks about ninety - who tours pub murdering classic rock 'n' roll numbers, as if to prove that although her mother is a hairdresser, Olivia has music in her blood. This is all building up to a finale that features Olivia aspiring to be a singer, a development that most other films would have put at a point nearer the opening to offer some much-needed dramatic tension. Not here, however, as I'll Be There is as bland and goodnatured as can be; it's about as good as Buddy's Song as these things go, and is but a footnote in the careers of the cast. Music by Trevor Jones.