CRITIC’S RATING: 8/10
A SHEEP in drag, a runaway floral arrangement and Olivia Newton-John as you’ve never seen her before are some of the memorable moments of this riotous comedy in which the humour varies from the outrageous to the ridiculous.
Scripted by Death at a Funeral’s Dean Craig, A Few Best Men cleverly combines its culture clash and buddy themes with a wild tale embracing family secrets, a drug deal gone wrong and a romantic wedding filled with hilarious mishaps.
The director, Stephan Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), brings his trademark joie de vivre and wicked sense of humour, resulting in a sure fix if you need a laugh. It’s a perfect marriage of British and Australian humour; the refined, the raucous and the rip-roaringly rude collide in 97 minutes of mayhem.
It all starts with a romantic video clip shot on a Pacific island, when David (Samuel) and Mia (Laura Brent) decide to get married. The happy couple have only just met while on holidays; he is from England, she is from Australia. Back in London, the news of the impending nuptials in the Blue Mountains bombs with David’s three best friends, who are aghast, feeling as though he is deserting them. ”Holiday romances are meant to end at the airport, not the altar,” they moan. But they wouldn’t miss the wedding - although by the time the big day arrives, David might have wished they had.
Kris Marshall (Death at a Funeral) and Kevin Bishop (The Spanish Apartment), who play Tom and Graham respectively, make the film, such is their strength of presence and hilarious performances. Tom is the outspoken, hedonistic bachelor; Graham can’t help playing the fool sporting a Hitler-esque moustache (”It’s just the way my facial hair grows”); and Luke (Draxl) is the lovesick fool, dumped for someone rumoured to be missing an essential piece of the male anatomy.
Surprise, angst and resentment are squeezed into a jumbo jet on a single day before the wedding, as the groom-to-be and his best men make the long journey to the Federation house on the edge of the Blue Mountains.
Political satirist and comic Jonathan Biggins has plenty of hide (and front) as Jim Ramme, the politician father of the bride, whose prize merino sheep Ramsy (a splendid specimen) steals scene after scene - dressed in bra, knickers and fire-engine red lipstick or being lowered surreptitiously from a first-floor window.
Poor Ramsy is the butt of many jokes, literally at times: in one scene Graham gets up to his armpit at Ramsy’s other end to recover cocaine-filled condoms swallowed by the sheep. Some of it is pretty risque. But Elliott, Australia’s loveable enfant terrible, has a knack of making everything feel cheeky rather than sordid.
There are numerous well-constructed, funny sequences - such as the scene in which Steve le Marquand’s (Underbelly) semi-naked, tattooed drug dealer Ray takes a shine to Graham or when Graham tries to ”convert” Mia’s supposedly lesbian sister Daphne (Wilson). In an inspired piece of casting, Olivia Newton-John is a knockout as the (initially) straitlaced mother of the bride, later showing that appearances can be deceiving.
The humour plays like a horn that is honked at both low and high decibels: subtle and not-so. It’s wacky and crass in equal portions. Every scene is bursting with colourful ideas and each character looks as though they could star in their own movie.
The film looks a treat and the Blue Mountains setting impresses. Elliott keeps the pace moving and all the production values are excellent.
This is a corker of a film with a feel-good guarantee.
STARRING OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN, TIM DRAXL, REBEL WILSON, KRIS MARSHALL, XAVIER SAMUEL, KEVIN BISHOP, STEVE LE MARQUAND