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Sunday, 27 September 2009

Charlie & Boots

Maybe it's time to face facts: Paul Hogan just doesn't want to be funny any more. Or at least, he doesn't want to be funny like he used to be. Not for him the laugh-out-loud days of his various TV series and the first Crocodile Dundee: now he happily sticks to bland but watchable family films - and frustratingly, there's usually just enough going on to suggest that he could still get big laughs... if he wanted to.

So how much you'll enjoy this gentle tale of a recently widowed farmer (Hogan) whose estranged son (Shane Jacobson) decides to take him on a road trip from Warnambool to Cape York depends on you. Hoges fans will enjoy his quality grumpy old man work (no-one says "dickhead" like Hoges), the chemistry between him and Jacobson, and the occasional glimpse of Hoges' ability as a straight actor. Everyone else will be left watching a moderately fun travelogue through rural Australia that goes out of its way to leave no impression whatsoever on the viewer.

It’s hard to really say anything bad about this film, because it clearly achieves everything it sets out to do – it’s just that it sets out to make the kind of cozy, inoffensive movie that even those who enjoy will have difficulty remembering the next day. "Gentle" isn't an insult when it comes to this kind of film, but unless you have an elderly relative to take along you might look a little out of place. If Hoges ever sets out to make another full-on comedy he’ll be dangerous; until then, this is merely a reminder that he’s still got it… and can’t be bothered using it.

Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #461)

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