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A FEW BEST MEN

SHOULD IT HAVE BEEN LEFT AT THE ALTAR?

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By Jess Fenton
22nd January 2012
English boy meets Aussie girl while on holiday, which leads to a whirlwind ten day romance and ends in an engagement. Fast forward three months, and the English boy with his three best mates in tow arrive in Australia for the wedding. A drive to the Blue Mountains with a quick stop at a drug dealers house and we’re on our way to holy matrimony. Let’s not forget a bride and groom that barely know each other, a case of swapped luggage, the “Kennedys of Australia”, a missing prized ram, and the blessed event is set to begin.

It should be a surefire hit, right? With lead-ins like monster smashes ‘The Hangover’ and ‘Bridesmaids’ it’s a no-brainer. Only...it isn’t.

I must clarify; the new Australian comedy ‘A Few Best Men’s’ downfall is by no means the fault of its director Stephan Elliott ('Priscilla Queen of the Desert') or its fantastic cast - a crop that includes both Australian and English talent such as Kris Marshall ('Love Actually'), Kevin Bishop ('The Spanish Apartment'), Rebel Wilson ('Bridesmaids') and new tween heartthrob Xavier Samuel ('Twilight Saga: Eclipse') - even Olivia Newton John as the cocaine-snorting Mother-of-the-Bride...

SWITCH: A FEW BEST MEN WHITE CARPET

No. The problem, as with so many Australian films, lies in the script. But here’s the twist: it’s not an Aussie writer, but an Englishman. Not just any Englishman, but Dean Craig, the scribe behind indy hit ‘Death At A Funeral,’ that even had a U.S. remake in 2010.

The script was originally penned pre-'Hangover,' and as a result, had to receive some major surgery upon the release of the Las Vegas caper. Among other things, the setting was switched from England to Australia once Elliott came on board, leading the director to re-write chunks of the script in order to “Australianise” it. So, England became Australia, the goat became a sheep, and the dialogue became less poncey.

All of these desperate changes lends itself to some clunky and - sad to say - “Australian acting”. But not all hope is lost. Yes, there are some laughs and a lot of them are even deliberate, led by the film's strong English players. The whole cast gives it their all, never shying away from the embarrassing, especially ONJ.

It’s great to finally see a semi-decent Australian comedy hit the big screen. While it may not be the stuff of legends and go down in history along side names such as ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ and ‘Priscilla’, it’s entertaining enough and almost worth the $17.50 to see Olivia in a role that’s a far cry for Sandy in ‘Grease’, even after the makeover.

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