(Directed by Stephan Elliott) (2018)
We at TVC stand up for the 1970s but this coming-of-age-weren’t-mum-and-dad-shockers film sums up the shakiness of such a gesture. Lurching from the 1960s Eden to the next decade’s Gethsemane, this Australian comedy tries to be an amusing take on the generational poison encapsulated in Philip Larkin’s This Be The Verse. Instead, it serves up a meaningless pastiche of Don’s Party, Puberty Blues, Porky’s and The Ice Storm.
Whilst the parents (Guy Pierce, Kylie Minogue, Asher Keddie, Julian McMahon and Jeremy Sims among them) seem to be living it up, most of the comedy is so broad as to resolve in sheer nastiness. And the two youngsters who seem to be the film’s anchor come across as hobbits – i.e., children only in size.
This being a 1970s homage, Jack Thompson must feature. And he chews the scenery, clad in a series of horrendous leisure suits, and provides a denouement as silly and unbelievable as anything since…oh, we don’t know – Rocky?
It is, however, a modest triumph of art direction – from the record selector to the iced vo-vos to the clothes to the cars to the lava lamps and fondue parties to the cavalier attitude to health, safety and hurt feelings, the look of the thing (it even seems to be filmed in old Kodachrome) is great and earns a couple of stars.
It was also a sound choice to enlist the Bert Kaempfert ditty, A Swingin’ Safari, as the film’s anthem (check it out on You Tube). A garish blend of what sounds like piccolos, tin whistles, 2-fingered bass, snare drum and the ‘Tijuana Brass’ after a few drinks, this nightmare of an instrumental was a certified dud on release in 1962 but became a big hit in Australian lounge rooms and back yard BBQs around the turn of the decade. What boy or girl born around 1960 didn’t find, and loathe, a copy in Mum and Dad’s record collection?