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A Few Best Men
2.5/5
dir Stephan Elliott
scr Dean Craig
prd Antonia Barnard, Gary Hamilton, Laurence Malkin, Share Stallings
with Xavier Samuel, Kris Marshall, Kevin Bishop, Laura Brent, Tim Draxl, Olivia Newton-John, Rebel Wilson, Jonathan Biggins, Steve Le Marquand, Elizabeth Debicki, Oliver Torr, Alan Cinis
release US Oct.11 mvff,
Aus 26.Jan.12, UK 11.Aug.12
11/Australia 1h36
A Few Best Men
Another fine mess: Bishop, Draxl, Marshall and Samuel

samuel newton-john wilson
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
A Few Best Men This Australian Hangover-style ensemble comedy strains so hard to be funny that it barely raises a smile. Elliott's lively direction helps a bit, as do the likeable actors, but it's all so corny and contrived that it's impossible to engage with.

After proposing to his Australian girlfriend Mia (Brent) on a romantic tropical island, the charming David (Samuel) heads home to London to break the news to his friends. His three unlikely pals - chucklehead Tom (Marshall), creepy Graham (Bishop) and depressive Luke (Draxl) - go back to Sydney with him on the day before the wedding. There David meets Mia's rather intense parents (Newton-John and Biggins) and sister (Wilson), while his friends get into trouble with a redneck drug dealer (Le Marquand).

Elliott shoots the London scenes like a tourist-bureau film, as each stroll takes in at least three major landmarks. And it gets worse Down Under, as the spectacular Australian landscapes are awash in exaggerated cornball slapstick while every element is pushed desperately to be absolutely hilarious. Mia's dad is the centre of most of the mayhem, with his prominent political standing, flirty wife and missing prize ram. To ramp things up, screenwriter Craig gets half the cast (including the ram) high on coke.

Anyone who's seen either version Craig's Death at a Funeral will recognise most of the vile gags as well as the general sense of contrived chaos surrounding a traditional family rite of passage (this could be titled Marriage at a Wedding). Fortunately, Elliott adds a spark of life to the silliness, stirring in some terrific songs while shying away from the most obvious gags. He also lets the cast create relatively believable characters.

Samuel and Brent are blandly likeable going through a real drama at the centre, while everyone else gleefully exaggerates their one personality trait. Sometimes this leads to vaguely amusing or telling moments, but most of it is squirm-inducing. Graham's appalling best man's speech comes at the midpoint, leaving the final act as a downward spiral of nonsensical farce. Despite the warm undercurrent, it's difficult to like a movie that seeks laughs in drugs, violence and sexuality.

cert 15 themes, language, drugs, violence, innuendo 6.Jun.12

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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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