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Monday, 14 January 2002

The Nugget

Aussie films are a lot easier to enjoy in theory than in practice. Case in point: The Nugget. In theory, this should be a winner. It's written and directed by Bill (Kiss or Kill) Bennett, it stars such heavy hitters of the local comedy scene as Stephen Curry and Dave O'Neil, and then there's the little matter of latest local-boy-makes-good success story Eric Bana taking the lead. Even the story sounds okay: three country town road workers - the unlucky Lotto (Bana), the super-lazy Sue (Dave O'Neil), and Wookie (Curry), so named because he claims to have once seen a Wookie in his back yard - like to spend their weekends away from it all 'prospecting' (that is, drinking beer) out on an old goldmining site. So when they stumble across the biggest gold nugget ever found, they rather stupidly figure they'll just hide it under Lotto's backyard and then try and buy up all the mining leases in the neighbourhood in case there's even more gold in them thar hills. Local sleazebag Ratner (Peter Moon) has other ideas, even as the trio's friendship starts to come apart under the stress of that much sudden wealth, and it's not long before they find themselves in a bigger hole than the one they dug to hide the nugget in. So far so good, especially with the three main leads all giving likeable (and very Aussie) performances. But this just isn't that funny. Okay, there are a few good gags here and there (and one, where a creepy old prospector - played by Max Cullen - says he'll sell his lease for 'the lives of the one you love the most' and then laughs hysterically for a good two minutes, is a classic), but otherwise this is a big collection of moments best described as 'nice'. The story isn't exactly a dramatic one either, and what twists there are aren't difficult to see coming. It's being promoted as a fable, and it works as one - but fables aren't all that funny, and they don't make for compelling viewing either.

Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #283)

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