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A subtle game that’s generally baffling to the uninitiated, cricket forms the nucleus and engine of Save Your Legs!, a jaunty but unambitious sports comedy about a bunch of Aussie weekend cricketers on tour in India.
Production values are high and there’s an authentic-seeming camaraderie bonding the middle-aged mates, but indifferent direction from first-timer Boyd Hicklin and a lazy script chock-full of culture-clash clichés prevent the Australian fish-out-of-water bromance from ever really firing. Those unfamiliar with the arcane conventions and virtually untranslatable language of the game – that is, anyone outside England and its former colonies – will be completely stumped.
Following festival dates around Australia and in London and Mumbai, the comfortably broad-humored production can anticipate low-level bloke-centric business when it opens Down Under Feb. 28 at the tail-end of the Australian cricketing season.
The larky script by stalwart Aussie all-rounder Brendan Cowell, who also stars, grew out of a documentary Hicklin made in 2005 about a D-grade park cricket club called the Abbotsford Anglers. Co-produced by one of the original Anglers, Nick Batzias, Save Your Legs! makes the mistake of zeroing in early on club president Teddy (Stephen Curry), the least interesting of a motley crew of suburban Peter Pans who finagle a three-match tour of India by convincing sponsor Sanjeet (Darshan V. Jariwala) they are more mature, disciplined and skilled than they are.
Teddy hopes the trip will mend the fractures appearing in his life-long friendships with boozy team captain Ricky (Cowell) and preening master batsman Stavros (Damon Gameau), both of whom are moving on with their lives as Teddy remains in arrested development, clinging to cricket and his deification of its practitioners like a life raft.
Once on the subcontinent, the narrative falls into a predictable procession of one-last-ball nail-biters, life-lessons learnt, a highly improbable romance, and a surfeit of strained jokes about local customs and cuisine.
Cowell’s dialog sometimes sings, but the action sags and drags, and the final-reel addition of a subplot involving a local Bollywood star (Sid Makkar) has a whiff of desperation. When one character solemnly intones, “You only get one innings in life,” it becomes abundantly clear the filmmakers are going through the motions.
Venue: Brisbane International Film Festival
Production companies: Nick Batzias Productions, Robyn Kershaw Productions
Cast: Stephen Curry, Brendan Cowell, Damon Gameau, David Lyons, Darren Gilshenan, Darshan V. Jariwala, Pallavi Sharda
Director: Boyd Hicklin
Screenwriter: Brendan Cowell
Producers: Robyn Kershaw, Nick Batzias
Executive producer: Paul Wiegard
Co-producer: Virginia Whitwell
Director of photography: Mark Wareham
Production designer: Paddy Reardon
Costume designers: Terry Ryan, Riyaz Ali Merchant
Music: Cornel Thomas Wilczek
Editor: Leanne Cole
Sales: Protagonist Pictures, London
No rating, 91 minutes
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