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Monday, 13 January 2003

Gettin' Square

It's one thing to spice up movie dialogue with some snappy phrases; it's another to rely on one phrase so often that a game based on having a drink every time someone says it would result in everyone taking part slipping into an alcoholic coma before the half hour mark. And when that phrase also happens to be the title of the movie - and we all know how great it is when a character says the title of the movie - you've got a blunder so big it threatens to overshadow what could have been a decent crime thriller. The words "I'm gettin' square" or "I'm square" (meaning they've turned their back on crime) haven't had this good a workout since the fifties, and blind viewers would be forgiven for thinking they'd stumbled into a movie about a bunch of beatniks turning their backs on the hipster life in favour of conformity and the quarter-acre block. The story itself is your usual confused mess about a collection of colourful crime characters (this time based around Surfer's Paradise), as our nominal hero Barry Wirth (Sam Worthington) gets out of jail and tries to go straight, while his junkie mate Spit (David Wenham) keeps messing up, former crime boss turned restaurant owner Dabba (Tim Spall) has to cope with a tax investigation and losing weight, parole office Annie (Freya Stafford) wanders around, and crime lord Chicka (Gary Sweet) and his crooked cop buddy (David Field) are out to ruin everyone's fun. Whining scuzzball Spit is definitely the film's highlight, and Wenham steals every scene he's in. Problem is, having such a minor character become such a laugh-getter throws the whole movie off balance. And when there wasn't much balance there to begin with - it's the kind of Snatch-style knock-off that only works so long as it keeps moving fast - you end up with a film that's little more than a collection of fun but forgettable moments.

Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #309)

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