'The Tail Job': Slamdance Review

Courtesy of Turnip Boy Adventures
Silly contrivances pass for laughs in this strained comedy.

A man hires a volatile cabbie to help him tail the girlfriend he suspects of cheating on him in this Australian dark comedy.

That its opening scenes include a violent murder and a lengthy paean to Bill Murray's cinematic oeuvre indicates the contradictory sensibilities of Daniel Millar and Bryan Moses' low-budget Australian comedy that recently received its world premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival. Aiming for a blend of dark humor and raucous action, The Tail Job doesn't manage to sustain its initially clever premise.

The Sydney-set story revolves around the unlikely partnership that develops between the hapless Nicholas (Blair Dwyer) and Trevor (Craig Anderson), the hot-headed taxi driver he hires to help him tail his beautiful girlfriend Mona (Laura Hughes). It seems that Nicholas has seen a series of text messages she's exchanged with a man named "Sio Bohan," so he assumes she's cheating on him and is intent on getting proof.

Not so hilarious complications ensue, with a road rage-prone Trevor getting into altercations with other drivers and the pair coming into rude contact with a number of shady characters, including a helpful hooker and a gangster named, you guessed it, Sio Bohan (Dorje Swallow), who has a large harem of scantily clad girlfriends, none of whom are Mona. Nicholas is also aided in his quest by Mona's friend Stacey (Kelly Clarke), who has a double agenda since she clearly is crushing on him.

Displaying good comic chemistry, the physically mismatched Dwyer and Anderson manage to wrest some laughs from the formulaic material. But despite the appearances of a profusion of Aussie comics and actors (most of whom won't be familiar to American audiences), the film runs out of comic steam fairly early on. The piling on of coincidences and silly misunderstandings eventually proves wearisome, and there's little suspense in the outcome since, sprinkled throughout, there are numerous scenes illustrating that Mona is simply having a fun night out with a girlfriend (Ursula Mills).

By the time the drawn-out scenario reaches its comically ironic finish, viewers will long have come to the conclusion that The Tail Job is mostly chasing its own tail.

Venue: Slamdance Film Festival

Production: Moses Millar, Turnip Boy Adventures

Cast: Craig Anderson, Blair Dwyer, Laura Hughes, Kellie Clarke

Directors/screenwriters/executive producers/directors of photography/editors: Daniel Millar, Bryan Moses

Producers: Daniel Millar, Bryan Moses, Laura Hughes

Composer: Michael Lira

Not rated, 95 minutes

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