Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Mark Lamprell
Stars: Xavier Samuel, Kris Marshall, Kevin Bishop, Ryan Corr, Shane Jacobson, Lynette Curran, Darren Gilshenan, Deborah Mailman, Sacha Horler, James Helm, Jeremy Sims.
2011’s comedy A Few Best Men was a surprise hit with audiences, although it was largely dismissed by critics. And now we get this largely unnecessary sequel that no-one really asked for.
This sequel to A Few Best Men takes up immediately where the first film left off. The straight-laced David Locking (Xavier Samuel) has just gotten married following a wild buck’s night party with his three best friends. At the end of the film his best man Luke (James Helm) had fallen off a cliff in the Blue Mountains. With Luke dead, David and his two best friends Tom (Kris Marshall, from the tv series Death In Paradise, etc) and the bumbling Graham (Kevin Bishop) have to return the body to London for the funeral.
But a series of misadventures, that begins with a plane crash, sees the boys stranded in the middle of the Western Australian desert with a corpse on their hands. Thus begins a rather bizarre journey through the harsh landscape to try and find civilization and return Luke’s body to London.
They come across a wild festival in the middle of the desert that seems modelled on the infamous Burning Man festival in California, and Luke’s body ends up inside a golden penis shaped coffin. The boys also encounter a strange truck driver (Darren Gilshenan), who may or may not be a psychopathic killer like Wolf Creek’s Mick Young; they have a tea party and play dress ups with a cross-dressing Mungus (Shane Jacobson); and also meet a foul-mouthed, over-sexed octogenarian (Lynette Curran).
A Few Less Men more or less follows the usual tropes of the road movie genre, as our three friends learn a few lessons about loyalty and friendship during their journey. Most of the laughs in this dire comedy come from the silliness of the boys’ situation. There is a lot of scatological humour in the film, and a lot of the humour is also of the physical slapstick variety. But the way in which the plot centres around a corpse and a number of indignities it suffers will remind many of the wonderful British comedy Death At A Funeral. Not surprisingly, as writer Dean Craig also wrote that film. There is a touch of the 80s comedy Weekend At Bernie’s about the material as well. But the film comes across more like a collection of not very interesting vignettes.
A Few Less Men has been directed by Mark Lamprell (My Mother Frank, Goddess, etc), who has replaced original director Stephan Elliott. This is only Lamprell’s second feature film in a decade, and he brings a different sensibility to the material. But he struggles to wring laughs from the silly and admittedly low brow material. Much of the succession of witless double entendres and juvenile raunchy humour seems to have been lifted straight from the Carry On series that was popular in the 60s. Instead, A Few Less Men offers up a richness of embarrassments for its cast.
The cast obviously had a good time making the film, even though it was shot in tough conditions on location in the small town of Lancelin in West Australia and around the rugged Pinnacles. Samuel is once again the moral compass of this group and plays it fairly straight as he tries to keep his friends together. Jacobson in particular is game with his off-beat role. And an almost unrecognizable Ryan Corr seems to be channelling Tom Hardy with his performance as Luke’s cousin Henry, a tough London thug. The cast also includes Jeremy Sims and Deborah Mailman, who are wasted in little more than cameos.
The film has been nicely shot though by Steve Arnold (Last Cab To Darwin, etc), who makes the most of the rugged West Australian landscapes.
A Few Less Men is the dullest and least funny Australian comedy to grace the screens since the misguided Welcome To Woop Woop, which was low point of the genre.