THAT much-hyped Scottish film Trainspotting, based on the Irvine Welsh novel, which had its world premiere this week in Glasgow and Edinburgh, is aptly summed up in the late Sam Goldwyn's words: "It's more than magnificent – it's mediocre.'' Even that is a kindness. Juvenile, inane, asinine, puerile would be a more accurate description.

It is not so much the subject matter – drug abuse among Edinburgh's underclass – which is offensive, for the film does not glamourise the stupidity of the syringe culture. In fact, it tries to take a neutral stance although how you can do so in a film about drug-taking will puzzle some. What is nauseating is the scatological humour, a kind of poor man's Carry On at Your Convenience. This includes one junkie inadvertently disgorging his suppositories in the toilet while answering a call of nature and then, realising his error, scrambling about with his hands in the pan to recover them.

It is not a pastime in which many of us indulge. Another high point is when one of the characters discharges in bed and in the subsequent tug-of-war over the sheets with the woman of the house the excrement flies in all directions including on to the faces of the combatants. I bet Tarantino wished he had thought of that. What they have done is the equivalent of Martin Amis descending to write an airport sex-buster a la Joan Collins – only worse. If this film does not bomb in America then my name's Martin Scorsese.

In Trainspotting everything is ugly and depressing. It is almost emetic. The characters are such an odd bunch they would not qualify as understudies to the inmates of One flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. This might be forgivable if there was a strong storyline. There is none in the book and only the slenderest in the film.

But we have to safeguard against hype. As Carl Bernstein says: "We are in the process of creating what deserves to be called the idiot culture. Not an idiot sub-culture, which every society has, bubbling beneath the surface and which can provide harmless fun; but the culture itself. For the first time, the weird and the stupid and the coarse are becoming our cultural norm, even our cultural ideal.''

Welcome to Trainspotting.

This is an edited version of William Russell's review of Trainspotting which ran on February 17, 1996. See this weekend's Herald Magazine for a T2 Trainspotting special