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A Few Best Men

A Few Best Men

Go back where you came from, you ten-pound Poms!

dir: Stephan Elliot

I am a simple man. Anyone who’s ever met me or read these here reviews will probably have figured that out for themselves by now. So if I watch a comedy whose sole purpose is to make me laugh, presumably, then I consider that comedy to be a success if I laugh.

In that light, to put it very simplistically, this movie made me laugh, it is a comedy, so therefore I give it my highest honour possible, being “eh, it wasn’t too bad.”

That’s not to say that it’s a good film, by any definition other than the one I just offered. It’s clumsy, it’s poorly acted, it’s erratically edited, it’s got actors in it who shouldn’t be in it, or in films in general and specifically, and it’s got a lot of crude, stupid humour.

Shit like that, though, literally and figuratively, makes me laugh sometimes, and I laughed a handful of times while watching this trenchant and probing examination of marriage in the current milieu.

Being a simple man doesn’t stop me from over-complicating things endlessly, though. The main reason for that is this: I’m a simple man who’s also intensely neurotic. So allow me to offer apologies and explanations for this here review and this here flick.

I thought this was an Australian flick made for domestic consumption, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It became pretty obvious after a while that there was a thoroughly misguided attempt to make this flick in Australia aimed at a British audience.

Most of the flick transpires at a stately country manner perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Blue Mountains, possibly one of the most beautiful parts of the entire world. Every time the flick used a certain shot where the big sky appeared in the background, I would filter out the humans in shot, and whatever the hell they were saying, and just sigh at the beauty of that vista, of that panorama, of that exquisite vision splendid.

Then I’d be rudely dragged back into a very contrived and very clumsy story relating to a bunch of Brits acting like total fuckwits in Australia.

It’s not a new story. I’ve been in enough pubs whenever the confluence of the Ashes and the cricket season has occurred and reared its ugly, ugly head in this country to witness enough Poms wearing the white and the red acting like they still think they’re our colonial masters and lording it over the place.

So now they’re doing it in movies, too. This is, to point out the bleeding obvious, a scuzzy and cheap Brit/Aussie/ Anglo take on The Hangovers, and truth be told it’s just as shitty as those flicks, and, to me, just as moderately entertaining.

Those Hangover flicks, though, are masterworks compared to what goes on here, but it’s not an entirely fair comparison, since the budgets are completely different.

Just to bang on about it a bit longer, it’s not like The Hangover invented that kind of bullshit either, since there were plenty of other flicks doing similar stuff mining for comedy gold with implied sex, hellish drug taking and bestiality, most notably Bachelor Party, with Tom Hanks before the Oscars ruined him. So it’s just as appropriate for anyone else anywhere else to try to do these kinds of flickery flicks for fun and profit.

Even more convolutedly, this also reminded me of Death at a Funeral, but that’s neither here nor there.

A Brit called David (Australia’s Own Xavier Samuel) meets and falls in love with an Australian girl called Mia (Laura Brent) whilst backpacking. Unlike almost everyone else who’s fallen in ‘love’ while backpacking, their relationship that springs into existence on the pristine isle of Tuvalu, doesn’t disappear ephemerally once the drugs wear off, or once the endorphins from orgasm have faded. They somehow, mysteriously, decide they need to get married and spend the rest of their days together. They're, like, what, 20? 22 tops?

Once David gets home to London, he informs his fuckup housemates, being Tom (Kris Marshall), Graham (Kevin Bishop) and Luke (Tim Draxl) that he’s getting married, and that they’re all coming with him for the wedding.

His friends are categorised by a singular, thoroughly unique characteristic: Tom is vulgar and swears all the time, Graham is neurotic and Luke is suicidally depressed because of the end of a relationship. Their characters are not developed, no layers are added, no nuances are explored, nothing happens to change the tone of the one note performances they are asked to belt out for us in the cheap seats.

Once they get to Australia, our wide bronzed land girt by sea puts on a good show for these British gentlemen, mostly because we find out that David is marrying a senator’s daughter.

In our actual world, marrying a federal senator’s daughter in Australia is like marrying anyone else in Australia, a nice enough if not tedious experience that guarantees nothing else apart from the fact that there should at least be something better on offer at the reception than just reheated fish or chicken. We’re meant to get the impression that David’s marrying into the Kennedys or something, which just seems odd in the Australian context, but I guess from a British perspective, makes more sense. Marrying into the Porteous or Packer clans would have made more sense.

The senator in question (Jonathan Biggins, horribly miscast) is a rampaging egomaniac in love with a prized sheep, which plays a bigger part of the story than it has any right to, in this or any other reality. Our lads, of course, not deliberately, do everything in their power to fuck the wedding up, which is given this weight as if them fucking anything up is likely to, or would be able to, prevent the wedding from occurring.

At least the Hangovers have the tension that the lads might not get back in time for the wedding. Here, they’re at the wedding, and chaos ensues all the same.

Of course they fall afoul of the local drug dealer (Steve Le Marquand, an awesome actor) due to a mix-up with bags (and shitloads of coke), and stuff happens to the sheep, and David and Mia correctly point out countless times that they don’t know anything about each other and probably shouldn’t be getting married.

Like most blokey movies, however, the real relationship in question is that between David and his friends, mostly Tom, who resent him getting married, resent him leaving the nest, so to speak, and are, somewhat, jealous. That’s meant to be an excuse for all their stupid behaviour, but let’s face it, it was going to happen anyway.

Xavier Samuel is appearing in almost every film I see these days, which is good for the lad. This is a waste of a role for him, but he doesn’t do too badly in his thankless role. He was the main character in the excellent, evil flick The Loved Ones a couple of years ago, where a psycho girl tortures him for several hours. He’s tortured here too, in some ways even worse than in a horror film where a person drills a hole into his skull. After all, he is the one getting married (hyukk-hyukk).

So the main, if not only, source of the actual humour in the flick comes from the stupid things that they do, or the stupid things that happen because of them. These precious moments include giving drugs to Olivia Newton John, who carries on like she hasn’t done any blow since Xanadu, and she’s really been missing the stuff; dressing a sheep in drag; having to fist a sheep to get some drugs; using drugs in the first place; knocking all of the guests over like tenpins; giving a best man’s speech that goes on about anal sex for far longer than any speech, anywhere, for any kind of marriage ever should, and basically acting like snarky, violent prats.

As such, I found them very entertaining. The Tom and Graham characters especially made me laugh, and the lunatic drug dealer has some choice lines and moments. The single funniest moment involves people doing something inexplicably complicated with a sheep, a person walks in on them, mouth agape in horror, to be greeted with the words: “It’s not what it looks like.”

It’s never what it looks like, is it, especially when it is? As I hope I’ve made patently clear, it’s crass and crappy and lazy, but it made me laugh. It kept me somewhat amused for its length, which wasn’t excessive, thankfully. And, since it brought on particularly apocalyptic reviews in the local press, by shmendricks like Jim Schembri, I’ll point out that I got more entertainment out of this than I ever did out of the Australian box office ‘king’ of last year, being the mawkish and truly awful Red Dog.

That’s not saying it’s a decent movie, it’s just to point out how crappy Red Dog was, so crappy in fact that I couldn't bring myself to review it from the depths of depression in which it cast me. And it’s exceedingly crude, kind of on a par with Fat Pizza crossed with The In-Betweeners and Trailer Park Boys. But at least it has the Blue Mountains in the background and Olivia Neutron Bomb swinging from the chandelier. That’s got to count for something.

(barely) 6 times I felt like retching every time the drug dealer mentioned the words Kentucky Fried Chicken, the dirty bird, out of 10

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“What should I say in my speech?
- “Maybe don’t mention that they’re a nation of convicts and pointy-headed sheepfuckers” – I like the diplomatic approach – A Few Best Men

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