Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.
Australia, 2018. See Pictures, Wildheart Films. Screenplay by Stephan Elliott. Cinematography by Brad Shield. Produced by Al Clark, Jamie Hilton. Music by Guy Gross. Production Design by Colin Gibson. Costume Design by Lizzy Gardiner. Film Editing by Sue Blainey, Annette Davey, Laurie Hughes.
Stephan Elliott looks back on his own childhood for this outrageous comedy set in a suburb of Sydney, Australia, centering the story around three wacky, dysfunctional families. Jeff has been gifted a prototype of a video camera, and he is obsessed with endangering his friends’ lives by having them perform ridiculous stunts for the action film classic he is piecing together. His family and their neighbours, including Guy Pearce, Kylie Minogue and Julian McMahon as the wayward adults, enjoy a summer of wild parties and sunny days by the sea that is marked by the unexpected appearance of a blue whale dying on their local beach, the grownups trying to experience the maximum pleasures of the seventies (key parties, orgies, etc) while trying to decide what to do about the smell of the rotting carcass that is permeating the neighbourhood. Elliot is highly skilled at making colourful films that you can’t tear your eyes away from, but the visual appeal and the presence of so many beloved stars can do nothing about a plot that feels like a series of characters and events have, no pun intended, been thrown into a blender and sprayed across the canvas of the screen. Even with the narration (by Richard Roxburgh) as the grownup version of the main youngster, there’s no telling if we’re meant to focus on the kids and see the adults seen through their eyes, or if the adults are the protagonists who don’t realize the effect they are having on their offspring. Spreading the story out to so many people means that every character leaves a thin impression and it’s hard to remember who belongs to whom, and since little of it is actually funny (or honest about when it’s tapping into the storyteller’s memories of pain), it fails to succeed at the genre it is selling. It’s very likely that Elliott will recapture the perfect balance of outrageousness and human vulnerability that made his debut hit The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert such a classic, but this one is definitely not it.