Crackerjack

Mick Molloy, Bill Hunter, Judith Lucy. Directed by Paul Moloney.
Running Time: 92 mins
Rated: M
Australians love a laugh at the cinema. Of the highest grossing Australians films of all time eight of the top ten are comedies or use comedy as the foundation for their dramatic story. Among them are: Crocodile Dundee; Babe; Crocodile Dundee II; Strictly Ballroom; The Dish; Priscilla Queen of the Desert; Muriel's Wedding; Young Einstein.

Two recent Australian comedies follow in this tradition, but there are changes afoot. Both are classified M for language; both have a contemporary social comment to make, and while one provides a few laughs, the other is reprehensible.

On every score Crackerjack is the better of the two films. The City Bowling Club has to find some fast money to keep pokie king Bernie Fowler (John Clarke) from taking them over. They decide to enter a lucrative bowling competition but first they have to find a fourth able-bodied man to roll the bowls. Looking through the membership lists they discover Jack Simpson
(Molloy), whom none of them have ever seen. Jack actually holds three memberships for the sake of the parking permits which come with it. He has been subletting these city car parks for years. Jack is called to duty on the green and tries to save the day.

There is a cavalcade of mature Australian television stars to delight us in this film. Bill Hunter, Frank Wilson, Monica Maughan, Lois Ramsay and Esme Melville all strut their stuff to great effect. Richard and Mick Molloy's anti-pokies script is laudable too. The problem is that the story is too thin, the drama is sacrificed for the quick one-liner and crude aside, and after an hour the laughs dry up.

Richard Leonard SJ

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