Jim Schembri’s new release movies – August 12
BAD MOMS ***1/2 (100 mins) MA
The strictures of modern motherhood prove too much for a trio of suburban women who decide to ditch convention and go down the naughty route, a decision that produces far more laughs than one might have expected. As clunky as the film is in its messaging – the only thing missing is a flashing pink neon – the chemistry between a struggling career woman (Milas Kunis), a compliant wallflower (Kristen Bell) and a man eater (Kathryn Hahn) turns what could have been another women-behaving-badly knock-off into comedy gold.
SAUSAGE PARTY ***1/2 (89 mins) MA
Package deal: The cast of Sausage Party soon discover that life’s a party, then you fry.
There really should be a special Oscar recognising truly inspired ideas. Here, in what could best be described as an hilarious anti-Pixar parody with a filthy mind and a dirty mouth, we are introduced via song to a supermarket full of anthropomorphised food that devoutly believe in the eternal paradise awaiting them beyond the glowing sliding doors of the entrance.
Shoppers are gods who select the chosen ones to take home, where they will supposedly enjoy comfort and love. The reality of the kitchen, however, proves to be a nightmare of Stephen King proportions.
A near-brilliant exercise in bad taste combined with a prolonged backhander to religious dogma and the indulging of wall-to-wall swearing and sex jokes, the film – conceived by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Pineapple Express; Superbad; The Interview; This is the End) – is strictly an adults-only affair that comes with a Caligula-like orgy scene, an hilarious Saving Private Ryan spoof and the funniest Holocaust joke since Mel Brooks did the Hitler Rap.
And how’s this: director Conrad Vernon made Madagascar, Monsters vs Aliens and Shrek 2 while co-director Greg Tiernan is best known for Thomas the Tank Engine videos. Talk about a great combination of talent.
DOWN UNDER *** (88 mins) MA
Goon squad: It’s idiots vs idiots in the controversial Aussie satire Down Under.
The day after the Cronulla riots in 2005, a carload of thick-headed Aussie bogans go in search of wogs to beat up while a carload of Muslim mouth-breathers hit the streets looking for local rednecks to beat up.
It’s a prime premise for a stinging satire on racism, intolerance and ignorance, and writer/director Abe Forsythe does a fine job balancing his cast of dim-witted racist caricatures with moments of poignancy and some very well-judged laughs. At their heart, all satirists are essentially moralists, and the moral to this tale is as clear as the finale is startling.
Yet as controversial as the film potentially is – nobody likes being stereotyped – it needs to be said that Down Under does stay on the safe side of satire.
The film doesn’t revisit the apparent origins of the riot – the assault of four lifeguards by a men of ‘Middle Eastrern appearance’ -nor does it mention pre-existing problem of women being harassed on the beach or the role the media played in inflaming the pre-existing racial and ethnic tensions of the area.
And while Down Under might divide those who see it, a bigger issue is how many people even know about it.
As happens too often with Australian films, Down Under is opening with scant publicity and a negligible marketing campaign against two high-profile American movies that film goers have known about for at least a month.
It has become a distressing parlour game to predict the theatrical death of an Aussie film the week before its release, based on its public profile.
That has got to stop, but the only way it can stop is if local filmmakers observe the brutal laws of logic that operate in cinema foyers.
If filmgoers look at the poster of an Australian film they’ve heard nothing about, what incentive do they have to see it rather than Hollywood’s latest serving of multiplex fodder they’ve been hearing about for weeks?
It would be great – would it not? – if this generation of Australian film critics was the last that felt the need to continually discuss the on-going failures of movie marketing.
Yet as long as that crucial side of the art remains an after-thought good Aussie films will continue to disappear in deference to their bigger, louder rivals.
As 2015 proved, Australian audiences love seeing Australian films. All filmmakers need to do is let them know they are there.