That's Not My Dog

THAT’S NOT MY DOG. Starring: Shane Jacobson, Robert Mond, Paul Hogan, Fiona O’Loughlin, Michala Banas, Steve Vizard, Paul Fenech, Khalsa Khalafalla, Hung Lee, and 21 others. Directed by Dean Murphy. Rated M (Coarse language and crude sexual  humour). 87 min.

This Australian comedy film, with an unusual title, is written and directed by comedian, Dean Murphy, and celebrates Australians’ love of joke-telling.

The film focuses on Shane Jacobson who decides to throw a party at his house to do “something special for his dad”. Shane decides to invite his mates, and they are the funniest people he knows. Thirty comedians line up for his party, and in the movie they tell their favourite jokes. The party-goers are drawn from Australia’s theatrical stage, cinema, and television.

Many of the comedians and comediennes featured in the movie have been associated with well- known, loveable Australian movies, stage productions, and television programs. Shane Jacobson, for example, iconically starred in the film, “Kenny” (2006). Paul Hogan (“I’ll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie”) is famous for his lead role in “Crocodile Dundee” (1986), and Michala Banas and Khalsa Khalafalla both starred in the popular television program, “Upper Middle Bogan”, that takes viewers back to 2013. Hung Lee acted in the 2000 comedy movie,“The Wog Boy” that was produced on the Australian stage four years previously. Interspersed among those who share their comic routines are several well known musical groups in Australia, who play their biggest hits live.

The comedians and comediennes are invited to Shane’s party with the explicit instruction they are to come with the funniest jokes they know. The comics share the night with musical groups such as The Black Sorrows,The Meltdown, and Russell Morris that play their favourite hits throughout the party.

Australian comedy is alive and well with these party-goers, and those telling the jokes clearly enjoy the experience of sharing their routines with fellow artists. Not unexpectedly, some jokes are good and some misfire. For the most part, the element that separates them is the crudity of the jokes that are told. Raunchiness is obvious throughout, but the crudity doesn't goes so far as making sure that the viewing of the film is restricted to adults. Nevertheless, some jokes, particularly those with sexual content and which appeal to body humour, could be offensive to some viewers. Most acts make heavy use of personal and intimate material, and none of the jokes aim for political satire. The absence of political relevance could be said to date them.

Putting comedians on the cinema screen, however, allows the viewer to explore personal style in interesting ways. Some deliveries are self-deprecating and completely dead-pan, while others are the opposite, and all performers are confident that their routines will amuse. They clearly enjoy what they are doing, and all are masters (and mistresses) of calculated comic timing. Even those playing with dubious material, time their routines to engender laughter and the audience responds accordingly, as expected, and the camera roams from performer to audience and back again to give us a distinctive large-screen look at the joke tellers’ routines and audience reaction to them. One has to be mindful, though, that the members of the audience being filmed in this movie are comedy artists themselves - appreciative, and naturally inclined to be responsive to each other.

It is impossible to say which routines work best. That is too personal a judgement, but for those who like joke-telling, Australian style, the film gives viewers an affectionate and interesting look at personality differences in comic delivery. The film provides us with a collection of comedy artists, and musicians, doing what they do best, and obviously enjoying it. As to the jokes, themselves, there are some gems to laugh aloud at, but they are mixed in with some mean ones.

This film is on very limited release throughout Australia, and the details of screenings need to be carefully watched to catch it.

Peter W. Sheehan is Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and  Broadcasting

Transmission Films

Released March 15th., 2018

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