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A Few Best Men, a raunchy, scatological comedy afflicted with a particularly unappetizing case of arrested development, is an Aussie take on The Hangover which makes that Hollywood mega-hit look highbrow. Director Stephan Elliott, best known for the campy/drag romp, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, a masterpiece compared to his latest film, may be a draw Down Under but getting U.S. distribution and an audience into theaters for a lame, decidedly foul and unfunny spectacle which features an extended encounter with a sheep’s rectum, will be a tall order.
In the opening scenes of this wedding disaster movie, written by Dean Craig (Death at a Funeral) as a series of set-ups and obvious gags, some offensive, others just plain dumb, the handsome, comparatively mature David (Twilight: Eclipse alum Xavier Samuel), returns to London from an island vacation where he has proposed to Mia (Laura Brent, who seems like a refugee from another movie), the lithe daughter of a wealthy, straitlaced Australian family.
David’s announcement of his impending marriage sends his three terminally adolescent mates reeling. Feeling betrayed and abandoned by their pal’s move into adulthood, Tom (Kris Marshall), an impulsive big mouth, the whiny Graham (Kevin Bishop) and Luke (Tim Draxl), drinking himself to distraction with predictable results after he’s dumped by his girlfriend, get into trouble on their way to Australia and once they arrive at Mia’s family estate for the big day. They take an ill-advised detour to score some weed from a local drug dealer (Steve Le Marquand), who hangs out in his underwear in a squalid shack littered with broken dolls. When they leave, Graham mistakenly takes a bag containing the dealer’s cocaine stash; no mystery as to where theat mix-up will lead.
Later, back at the family manse, the boys get drunk the night before the wedding and kidnap Ramsy, the prize Merino sheep belonging to Mia’s intimidating father (Jonathan Biggins) and depressed mother (a real step down for Olivia Newton-John). Hungover, David awakens to find Ramsy in his room, dressed in drag and consuming the balloons of cocaine which Tom and Graham decide to retrieve in what can be politely described as an unsanitary veterinary procedure.
Yes, there are plenty of fans for potty humor, smutty sex jokes and silliness but moviegoers subjected to so much bad taste in one sitting should be rewarded with a bigger payoff than a few chuckles. If you think the sight of Olivia Newton-John coked up and swinging from a chandelier is hilarious, then this is the film for you, But it must be said, Ramsy, a commanding figure who tolerated being lowered from a second story window during filming and was reportedly kept in air conditioned splendor between takes, has more screen presence than she does. In fact, he may be the only cast member to emerge from this fiasco with his dignity intact.
Technical contributions are pro, from Guy Gross’s tacky, time warp score with its covers of icky pop songs from the 70s and 80s, to Lizzie Gardiner’s costumes and able cinematography by Stephen Windon.
Venue: Mill Valley Film Festival
Production companies: Screen Australia, Arclight Films & Quickfire Films and Screen NSW present a Parabolic Pictures and Stable Way Entertainment production in association with Unthank Films and Storybridge Films and Ingenious Broadcasting and Auburn Entertainment
Cast: Xavier Samuel, Kris Marshall, Kevin Bishop, Tim Draxl, Laura Brent, Rebel Wilson, Olivia Newton John, Jonathan Biggins.
Director: Stephan Elliott
Screenwriter: Dean Craig
Producer: Share Stallings, Laurence Malkin, Gary Hamilton, Antonia Barnard
Executive producer: Dean Craig, Josh Kesselman, Todd Fellman, Mark Lindsay, Ian Gibbins, James Atherton, James M. Vernon
Director of photography: Stephen Windon
Production designer: George Liddle
Music: Guy Gross
Costume designer: Lizzie Gardiner
Editor: Sue Blainey
Sales agent: Arclight films
No Rating, 96 minutes
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