Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Paul Fenech
Stars: Paul Fenech, Maria Venuti, John Boxer, Elle Dawe, Kevin Taumata, Stuart Rawe, Tahir Bilgic, Renzo Bellato, Vanessa Davis, Paul Nakad, Nick Giannopoulos, Angry Anderson, Kyle Sandilands, Andy McPhee, Jabba.
Twenty years ago writer/director Paul Fenech won the award at Tropfest short film festival with his Pizza Man. He later successfully transformed that into Pizza, a hugely popular television comedy for SBS, and he turned the concept into the feature film Fat Pizza. He followed that up with Housos, a comedy that was set in Sunnyvale, the worst suburb in Australia with its population of welfare cheats, crooks, drug dealers and deadbeats. Fenech’s subsequent 2012 feature film Housos Vs Authority was a huge hit at the local box office, which just goes to show there is no underestimating the taste of the punters. Fenech knows his audience and is happy to cater to them with his brand of raunchy humour aimed at the lowest denominator.
With his latest film Fat Pizza Vs Housos, Fenech has combined characters and plot developments from his two successful shows, but the end result is a relentless assault on decency and good taste. While fans of Fenech and his shows will no doubt appreciate the film, everyone else would be well advised to steer clear of this witless and obscene procession of cringe worthy and politically incorrect cultural and racial stereotypes, the profusion of gratuitous profanity, and largely appalling and unfunny skits. While watching this farrago of low brow nonsense I could feel my brain cells fading with every minute that passed.
As usual, Fenech has set his film in Sunnyvale and its community of bogans, and sets up a plot that seemingly explores the clash of cultures in contemporary Australia. Fenech pokes fun at a broad range of targets, from welfare cheats to the elderly, the disabled, ethnics, illegal immigrants, politicians, authority figures, our sense of identity, and the sense of entitlement felt by many Australians today. A lot of the anarchic humour here is hit and miss, and apparently the word subtlety is missing from Fenech’s dictionary.
When the film opens, former pizza shop owner Bobo Gigliotti (John Boxer) has just been released from prison after serving fifteen years for killing a health inspector with a chainsaw. At the urging of his overbearing mother Mama (veteran Maria Venuti), Bobo opens a new pizza shop in the worst area of Sunnyvale. He hires a ragtag team to work in the shop including the simple minded Reg (Stuart Rawe) and Habib (Tariq Bilgic), who uses his pizza deliveries as a cover for running drugs. Habib’s actions though start a turf war with the local bikie gang and attract the unwanted attention of the local cops, with Bobo’s shop caught in the middle.
Initially the shop struggles, until Mama convince her cousin Reno (Renzo Ballato), who works in the local Centrelink office, to force people off welfare and give them pizza vouchers instead. But the locals rely on their welfare cheques for smokes, booze and bongs and are not happy. Shazza (Elle Dawe) tries to start a protest against the practice, but the community are too apathetic to really do anything.
A subplot features former pizza delivery man Pauly (played by Fenech) who has emerged after years of being kept as a sex slave. He is often mistaken for his cousin the thong wielding Frankie (also played by Fenech), who flouts authority and delights in tormenting the local dimwitted cops. Pauly soon learns to take advantage of this mistaken identity for some sex.
Fenech’s direction is hamfisted and over the top, but he certainly maintains a fast pace throughout. Cinematographer Michael Kliem uses a variety of angles to shoot the action, adding to the heightened reality of it all.
Many familiar faces from Fenech’s body of work appear here, but most of the characters are broad caricatures. The performances from the cast are over the top and shrill, but perfectly suited to the tone of the material. Venuti seems to be having fun here as the overbearing Mama. Angry Anderson reprises his role as the leader of the most unthreatening bikie gang ever seen on screen.
As with his previous film, Fenech has called in some favours and managed to grab a number of big names to contribute cameos. Nick Giannopoulos, best known for his work in Wogs Out Of Work, etc, pops up as the hapless Melbourne-loving driver of a maxi cab, while shock jock “vile” Kyle Sandilands contributes a brief cameo that shows just how unfunny and unlikeable he is.
This low brow shocker is for fans only!