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Film / 7 Days in Hell

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The True Story of the Most Intense Game of Tennis Ever.

7 Days in Hell is a 2015 HBO comedy Mockumentary starring Andy Samberg and Kit Harington as Aaron Williams and Charles Poole, two tennis players locked in the longest tennis match of all time, unable to score a match point.

Samberg followed this film up with Tour de Pharmacy, a Spiritual Successor looking into the seedy world of professional cycling.

This film provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Bi: It's made clear that Poole used to date a supermodel, played by Karen Gillan, but he's later shown to be extremely aroused by the sight of Aaron Williams having sex with a man.
  • Brainless Beauty: Charles Poole is fit and attractive, but his mind is empty thanks to the regimen his Stage Mom raised him on. His ex-girlfriend, herself a shallow stage model, described him as "the thickest man she ever met," comparing him mentally to a child.
    Poole: Indubitably.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Aaron interrupts his fourth day of play to have sex with a female streaker, and then has sex with a male streaker, and then has sex with both streakers after making the two kiss.
  • British Stuffiness: Williams gets away with an incredible amount of athletic misconduct, from taking drugs laced over the court to having sex on the court, because the English hosts consider pointing such things out to be "rude."
  • Cardboard Prison: Swedish Prison, according to the documentary. An escape only requires a leaping naked kick on a single guard to leave the compound, and furthermore, Swedish Law dictates that Aaron is a free man once he's outside.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Yet another Inversion, as Aaron puts his tennis match on hold to have sex with a female streaker on the court, then refrains from resuming in order to have sex with a male streaker, and then has sex with them both in one go. When the impromptu threesome finishes, it's too late in the day to resume the game.
  • Comical Overreacting:
    • During an interview, Charles is pressed for an answer on whether he could have defeated Aaron Williams, to which he replies a disinterested "uh, yeah." Williams, who just happened to be listening in during his daily prison orgy, immediately lost his erection and escaped (without getting dressed, of course), and vowed to avenge his honor by defeating Poole.
    • Poole himself has one, as during the seventh day of play, Williams makes a gesture that could be interpreted as a symbol for cunnilingus, which enrages Poole due to Aaron having seduced his girlfriend the previous night. For once, Charles is the one who needs restraining.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Aaron replaced sections of the court's chalk lines with cocaine so that he could "discreetly" snort some as needed for whenever he'd start flagging during play.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Poole was raised from an early age to become an expert tennis player. Now 20, he's an excellent athlete and lorry driver, but he's hilarious inept at everything else.
  • Dark Horse Near-Victory: Aaron Williams was hardly in a shape to compete for the Wimbledon. However, a judge allowed him to join because he believed it would be amusing to let his fellow Englishman Poole trash such an unpopular, unpracticed competitor. Of course, Williams managed to make it to the final match against Poole which neither of them won, due to their death.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Aaron Williams, will have copious amounts of sex with both men and women (including large groups). The depraved part comes from the fact that he'll have sex anywhere, anytime. Including on a tennis court, during a match, in front of thousands of spectators.
  • Dirty Old Man: Sports talkshow host Caspian Wint asks a teenaged Poole to lift his shirt for the cameras and clearly enjoys the view. He is later shown awkwardly hugging Poole while his mother describes him as one of Poole's greatest supporters.
  • Dodgy Toupee: Williams's giant mullet. Poole manages to pull it off in a brief spat, making Aaron extra spiteful during the next day of play.
  • Dumb Jock: Charles Poole. Indubitably.
  • Easily Forgiven: Sweden apparently takes this trope and runs with it. Not only are the prisons very luxurious environments, inmates are declared free men if they manage to escape, as Williams discovered.
  • Feigning Intelligence: Apparently aware of how unintelligent Charles is, Louisa taught her son to use the word "indubitably" to make him seem smarter. Charles manages to use it frequently, but it only makes him look dumber as he misapplies it.
  • Functional Addict: Exaggerated. Aaron Williams regains his tennis mojo to challenge Charles because of an absurd amount of cocaine, which he placed on the court (replacing the chalk lines) and rather obviously snorted during the match.
  • Gag Penis: During the 3D recreation of Williams' escape from Swedish prison, his penis is depicted as several feet long, complete with the flopping member knocking several birds aside as he runs.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Queen Elizabeth II goes from leaving passive aggressive messages on Poole's answering machine to having her bodyguards hold him down while she cracks his ribs with a cane.
  • He's Back!: Played With. Williams returns from five years of retirement to challenge the one of the best tennis players in the world... and he performs as well as you'd expect from someone who hasn't played tennis in five years. He only stays in the tournament thanks to a thunderstorm delaying the second set, and it takes plenty of drugs the next day to regain his skills.
  • It Amused Me: The Queen stops security from interfering with Poole and Williams' fight, because she wants to see what will happen. Hilariously, they both kill each other.
  • Jerkass: Aaron Williams.
  • Literal-Minded: When Charles manages to actually understand a question, his response falls along these lines. In one interview, when asked how he plays tennis (i.e. about his strategy for tennis), he literally starts explaining how tennis is played.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Aaron and Lily's leaked sex tape reveals that he had trouble getting it up.
  • Loophole Abuse: Frequent use of this trope both established a lot of the absurdities and allow said absurdities to continue.
    • Charles's mother wanted to fast track her son's academics so he could focus as much time as possible on tennis, so Charles only received vocational training as a truck driver for an education. Naturally, he's about as intelligent as the racket he swings as a direct result.
    • On the sixth day of play, Poole misses what should have been a match point due to David Copperfield magically appearing atop his shoulders 'by accident.' Since there's no rule meaning that magicians appearing on top of people ends play, the point went to Williams.
    • On the same day, Williams was injured by a truck and broke one arm, but elected to still play since he "only needed one arm" to use his racket.
  • Mockumentary
  • Mutual Kill: With the Queen's approval, Williams and Poole decide to end their grudge match physically, approach the center field and... immediately kill each other with a single swing of their rackets.
  • My Beloved Smother: Charles Poole's mother puts on this persona, but it's actually a Subversion. She only cares for the controlling authority part, and stops feigning affection and threatens to disown Charles if he loses as he gets further into his game with Williams.
  • Naked People Are Funny: A major source of humor in the film, from underwear that exposes men's testicles to streakers having sex on the Wimbledon court.
  • Never My Fault: When reminiscing on Poole's childhood, his mother 'sadly' laments how she could never connect with him thanks to "his obsession with tennis", never mind the fact that she's a Stage Mom taken up to eleven who engineered his childhood specifically to turn her son into a tennis prodigy.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Williams's bad-boy persona and giant mullet are obviously modeled on the early career of Andre Agassi. Poole seems to be somewhat based on the stereotypes about Andy Murray (i.e. being a Mama's Boy who is the only British player of note).
  • Prison Rape: Subverted to a ludicrous degree in the Swedish prison, where every day there's a consensual shower orgy which gets shown.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The short is based on a real match that took place in Wimbledon and seemed to never end (albeit lasting for 3 days rather than 7).
  • Serious Business:
    • The windy talking-head interviews describing the tennis match as "two men locked in eternal flames" and of course the title. Of course, it actually manages to become such, considering the Queen of England herself demanded Poole win and the game lasted for 7 days before they both died.
    • When Aaron lost his first Wimbledon tournament five years earlier, he stormed off before the award ceremony concluded, knocking the Duke of Kent to the ground as the royal makes a pathetic-sounding scream. After that several different news stations report on "The Shove Heard 'Round The World," and keep on replaying the Duke's embarrassing fall.
      Caspian Wint: The Duke of Kent has been pushed.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story:
    • The history segment on the prolific Swedish courtroom artist ends with the artist buying a rocket to go look for other, better planets to continue his wild parties on, which explodes on launch and takes the artist with it. ...Anyway, Williams went to Swedish prison...
    • The entire documentary, since at the end of the seventh day, both players are dead with no winner declared. Some commentators even declare it never really mattered, since people only care for "real" sports.
  • Stage Mom: Louisa Pool, Charles Poole's mother. From the moment of her son's conception, she structured his upbringing to ensure he became the best tennis prodigy the world had ever known and she'd become famous by association. It worked.
  • Title Drop: From one of the talking heads during the intro. Later, during the end credits, we get this outtake:
    Sandy Pickard: It was... seven days in hell.
    Cameraman: ...why are you looking at the lens like that?
    Sandy Pickard: Because I think it would make a good title for the documentary. {at camera} 7 Days in Hell.
  • Together in Death: Non-Romantic version. The morticians simply shove Williams and Poole's bodies into the same coffin, since they honestly didn't care enough at this point.
  • Vulgar Humor: Plenty of it, including the aforementioned Gag Penis and instances of impromptu sex at the court.
  • White Man's Burden: Inverted, as the white Aaron Williams was adopted by the black Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena Williams, and learned his tennis skills by proximity. Serena herself calls it "like The Blind Side, but in reverse."
  • Wimp Fight: Whenever Poole and Williams managed to get in an altercation, their fighting skills prove laughably bad. The last instance kills them both.
  • Worthy Opponent: The ending reveals that prior to their infamous match, Williams and Poole respected each other greatly. Williams saw Poole as a promising member of the next generation of tennis players while Poole admitted to seeing Williams as an idol.