Muriel Heslop is dead. A nation mourns. Darryl Kerrigan and his family have sold out their sought after castle and made a mint. A nation grieves. The three famous drag queens wandering the desert have moved onto broader pastures and Australian cinema is in dire need of their return.
This may sound rather dramatic and even polemic, but Australian films just are not what they used to be. Despite this criticism, A Few Best Men is a fine, playful film. Caught in a recent string of big budget pre-wedding films with the likes of Bridesmaids and The Hangover, Australia seems to offer its own version.
David (Xavier Samuel) meets Mia (Laura Brent) while on holiday on a tropical island. They quickly decide to marry and David flies down from England with his three best mates (Kris Marshall, Kevin Bishop and Tim Draxl). Mayhem naturally ensues as the three best mates are bumbling imbeciles and Mia’s father is a politician.
Dean Craig, screenwriter of Death at a Funeral, sees the usual set of uncouth and inappropriate narrative conflicts that allow the protagonist and his sidekicks into crass and crude situations. Stephan Elliott, director of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, also follows the standard, generic codes with ample aptitude.
Xavier Samuel is affable but rather bland, cast as the tolerable straight man. The female cast lacks in discernable character too, with another one dimensional sassy weirdo character for Rebel Wilson to play and a bride character that has nothing interesting to say or do, but to be a vision of David’s desires. The three groomsmen get the best/only laughs, with the standout being Tim Draxl.
The usually squeaky clean Olivia Newton-John appears as Mia’s mother in a partial Grease “final-scene-drastic-character-change” recreation. This time the catalyst for change is not buoyant adolescent friskyness but a chemical addiction. Unlike Grease however, the results while initially comical, soon get old.
Despite being no revelation in its comedy, performances or storytelling, the film is enjoyable for what its worth. The beautiful Blue Mountains of New South Wales give perhaps the best performance in the film, existing as images akin to tourism material found in Oprah’s down under tour.
A Few Best Men opens theatrically on January 26, 2012 through Icon Films.