By Richard Winters
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Teddy (Johnathon Schaech) is a rather clumsy con man from New York who tries to escape a murder rap by going to the most remote place possible, the Australian outback. However, after coming into close contact with the eccentric people and lifestyles, he decides what he really needs is an escape from there!
This is the type of offbeat comedy that should give all other offbeat comedies a bad name. It takes all the same ingredients from all those other films, meshes them together, and then spits them out in a mechanical fashion. Unlike director Stephan Elliot’s earlier feature Priscilla Queen of the Desert there is nothing deep here to help balance the quirkiness. The film is just made to be silly and at times goes overboard with it. The pace is also too fast. The viewer is never allowed to soak anything in or even take a breath.
Schaech is not good in the leading role. He gives too much of a breezy performance, acting as if the whole thing is a joke. He never once even for a second displays the angst, anxiety, and basic overall exhaustion that anyone else stuck in the same situation would feel.
The portrayal of the Australian people is terrible. They take all the stereotypes of the down under folks and then play it up to the extreme. Here they are not just slightly eccentric people of a rugged and hearty nature. Instead they are complete Neanderthals who live like animals and have no level of sophistication. Yes, it does try to be somewhat fair by showing that Americans may have some primitive defects as well. Specifically in an opening sequence in New York City where every pedestrian is seen shooting at some birds flying by. Still the Australian segments are needlessly overdone and a bit insulting.
The one pleasant surprise is the appearance of Rod Taylor. He plays completely against type here. He’s Daddy-O a self-imposed, self-styled dictator of the town. His performance is gruff, campy, energetic, over-the-top, and hilarious all at the same time. His appearance here may actually be his career pinnacle.
Overall the film is similar in tone to all those formulaic bid budgeted Hollywood actioners, except here it’s aimed at the offbeat crowd. Everything is perfectly packaged to its core audience and overblown all at the same. It’s so forced at points that it almost becomes ridiculous. Yet some of the humor is funny, it has a feel good attitude, and it is without question LIVELY.
Watch for a real fun cameo by Tina Louise at the beginning.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Released: May 13, 1997
Runtime: 1Hour 37Minutes
Director: Stephan Elliot
Studio: Goldwyn Entertainment Company
Available: VHS, DVD