Last year’s Australian comedy A Few Best Men (2011) was notable in that it featured a rare onscreen role for Olivia Newton John. It also featured Rebel Wilson at the start of her real breakout year in the States. Unfortunately though, the film is not particularly notable for any other reason.
David (Xavier Samuel) meets Mia (Laura Brent) on a beach in Tuvalu. The two fall passionately in love almost immediately, so before they part, David proposes. The film picks up with David and his three best mates flying in from London to Australia for the wedding. Who would guess it, hijinks ensue. Unfortunately though, I just found the hijinks to be criminally unfunny. The first few jokes fall remarkably flat. Not just, well that was a little unamusing flat, but embarrassing for all involved flat. Further to that, there is no real investigation of whether or not these holiday lovebirds are actually suited to a life together. Indeed, the love story of what should be a ‘romantic comedy’ is essentially a subplot and the ‘I do’ part of proceedings goes off with barely a hitch, which removes any suspense in that regard. Instead, it is just a cavalcade of the lads getting into more and more madcap trouble. All of which is straight from The Hangover (2009) or a hundred other films, most of which has been done better in at least a few of those films. Though the standard, incredibly flat falling and awkward best man speech is actually one of the film’s better moments.
There are a couple of saving graces for the film coming from a couple of really good performances. Unfortunately though, neither of these characters occupies nearly enough screen time. First of all there is Rebel Wilson, as Mia’s ‘Black Sheep’ younger sister. Wilson is doing her laconic thing here, but she does it well and with obvious devotion to her craft, which I think is evident in all of her roles. The second performance that stood out is Laura Brent’s Mia. It is a little inexplicable that she sees so little time onscreen, given that this is her wedding we are talking about. But whenever she is onscreen, she really lights proceedings up with a charm and genuineness that seems to be sorely lacking from the rest of the film. The male performers are uniformly bland, with the exception of Kris Marshall, here playing the same role he plays in basically all his films, but doing his rambunctious thing pretty nicely. The film is well put together as well, with the direction from Stephan Elliot being assured and the stunning scenery of The Blue Mountains west of Sydney a big star. But all of this cannot overcome the weak script that plagues the film.
It is unfortunate that despite some nice performances there is very little to recommend A Few Best Men. Lacking in charm and being burdened with a deeply unfunny script are two pretty large obstacles for a comedy to overcome. Unfortunately, rather forgettable all in all.
Verdict: Schooner of Carlton Draught
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