Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Few Best Men

Murphy's Wedding

You meet the girl of your dreams, and with the feeling being mutual, decide to fast track the romance into marriage. It's one of the big decisions in life, and so you engage some help from your pals, who happen to be some of the most disorganized bunch ever, unintentionally lining up what would be one of life's most memorable events with a series of mishaps and accidents that are just waiting to happen, from run ins with drug dealers, abuse of drugs and drink, and an animal featured somewhere as well. No this is not The Hangover films, although at first glance A Few Best Men may seem to tread on similar territory.

Unlike the American films that focus on extreme shenanigans, A Few Best Men may deal with similar wedding blues in comedic fashion, but was rather a bit more restrained in its grossness, although toilet humour is something staple that is never too far away and utilized when there's a need to for maximum effect. This Australian production follows a more British route with witty repartee, and quirky, zany characters peppering the landscape, with probably the only sane people in the entire film being the groom David (Xavier Samuel) and his bride Mia (Laura Brent).

The titular characters refer to David's best mates Tom (Kris Marshall) who's usually the catalyst of problems with his indifferent attitude, Graham (Kevin Bishop) the somewhat dim witted follower, and Luke (Tim Draxi) who still can't get over the break up with his ex. Together they lend support to David as his best men for his wedding, making that round the world trip from England to Australia. Mia on the other hand comes from a political family, with a senator for a dad in Jim (Jonathan Biggins) whose more than proud to turn his daughter's wedding into political gain, wife Barbara (Olivia Newton-John, probably the largest name in this ensemble), and sister Daphne (Rebel Wilson last seen in What To Expect When You're Expecting). With worlds so different colliding together, sparks fly in similar, slowly but surely fashion to Meet the Fockers, with a scene being somewhat of a lift off The Hangover films when the stag's night out turned into one big blur.

A Few Best Men sees the long awaited return by director Stephan Elliott, who did the acclaimed Priscilla Queen of the Desert. And I have to admit unabashedly that I'm somewhat of a fan of writer Dean Craig's work, after what he did with Death at a Funeral, dealing with something similar with family and friends' shenanigans standing out during life's ceremonies, and in a way this film seemed like a spiritual companion to his earlier work for the way it encompassed rip tickling moments over one of life's major rituals. It's basically Murphy's Law put on display here, with everything that can go wrong actually do go wrong, with a couple of surprise (some may argue convenient) twists thrown in for good measure.

The soundtrack is also noteworthy in the film, consisting of mostly evergreens and oldies from the 60s and 70s, and having Olivia Newton-John lend her vocals as well. In fact, her character becomes what would be the live wire of the film as it wore on, together with Kris Marshall and Kevin Bishop drawing the loudest of laughs thanks to their subplot involving their quest for weed from which everything got intricately tied to no thanks to their being stuck with contraband drugs, and being quite inept in helping the groom settle and solve the mess they got everyone into.

If one is game for ensemble films and buddy type ones where the inevitably lessons extracted will be themes on brotherhood, friendship and family, with lots of laughs thrown in from good measure, then A Few Best Men would be your choice this week during the summer season breather in between blockbusters hitting the cinemas. Highly recommended!

A Few Best Men opens exclusively at Filmgarde this Thursday.

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