A Few Best Men

A Few Best Men

A Few Best Men



Rating

Directed by Stephan Elliott. Starring Laura Brent, Xavier Samuel, Kris Marshall, Kevin Bishop, Tim Draxl, Solveig Walking, David Sullivan, Elizabeth Debicki, Olivia Newton-John, Rebel Wilson, Jonathan Biggins, Oliver Torr, Steve Le Marquand. Written by Dean Craig.

A middling, generic comedy in the outré Death at a Funeral mode, Stephan Elliott’s A Few Best Men attempts to push boundaries but its imagination is severely limited. Caught halfway between a sweet nuptial romance and a gross-out comedy, this is a film that seems destined to please very few, which makes its wide release in local Czech cinemas downright confounding.

Set largely at a single (if expansive) location of the course of a few hours, Best Men follows Aussie Mia (Laura Brent) and Englishman David (Xavier Samuel) as they attempt to precariously navigate their wedding day, at the outback mansion estate of Mia’s parents, Senator Jim Ramme (Jonathan Biggins) and his wife Barbara (Olivia Newton-John).

Brent and Samuel make for an appealing couple, but the film gives them precious little to do; instead, the focus shifts to David’s tag-along friends, the titular best men: bug-eyed Tom (Kris Marshall), Hitler-mustached Graham (Kevin Bishop), and perpetually inebriated Luke (Tim Draxl), who unwittingly do everything they can to make sure their mate’s big day turns into a disaster.

That includes accidentally swiping a crazed drug dealer’s stash, getting loaded the night before the wedding and playing dress-up with the Senator’s beloved sheep (“the ram behind the Ramme”), and sending a giant ball of flora rolling down into the wedding procession, which happens to be inconveniently located atop the face of a huge cliff. We wait the whole film to see if the filmmakers can restrain themselves from sending someone flying off the cliff, with unsurprising results.

Despite the frequent scenes of borderline animal cruelty involving the sheep, A Few Best Men lacks the offensive edge that might have made this brand of comedy work. As a romance, it’s even weaker; after some 80 minutes of wallowing in the gutter, a haphazard finale takes all of five minutes in a too-late attempt to wrap up all the lovey-dovey stuff.

Plusses: Best Men is short (though it feels a good 20 minutes longer than it actually is), polished, and relatively painless, and there are a few laughs to be had, even if the film doesn’t have an original idea in its head. The upbeat wedding music soundtrack, featuring covers of a number of familiar tunes, does its best to try to convince us we’re having a better time than we actually are.

Then there’s Olivia Newton-John, still ravishing at 60+, snorting lines of coke with the groomsmen and leading a procession of YMCA. Still, the film fails to elicit much of a reaction. At least it looks like she’s having fun here.

Director Stephan Elliott previously made the colorful Aussie originals The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Welcome to Woop Woop; the creativity that went into those films, however, is all but absent here. A Few Best Men has its moments, and might scrape by as a decent-enough timewaster for undemanding audiences, but it’s utterly unmemorable, by-the-numbers stuff.


Jason Pirodsky

Hailing from Syracuse, New York, Jason Pirodsky made his way to Prague via Miami and has stuck around, for better and worse, since 2004. A member of the Online Film Critics Society (www.ofcs.org), some of his favorite movies include O Lucky Man!, El Topo, Berlin Alexanderplatz, and Hellzapoppin'. Follow him on Twitter for some (slightly) more concise reviews.

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