Sunday, July 27, 2003

Bad Eggs”: Australian crime comedy, a tad underdone

Sometimes, the script comes out of the oven before it’s quite ready, before all the ingredients have settled into the right proportion. It can still taste good, everything you need is in it, but there’s a lingering sense of something missing.

Crime comedy can be tricky: just do the set-piece gags and visual mayhem (“Charlie’s Angels”); or go for a convoluted plot too? Well, if you are going to have a plot, best to have all the action in the foreground, seen by the audience (“Dirty Deeds”).

“Bad Eggs” is funny, but inconsistently paced. The opening sequence borders on magic realism in its surreal progression from the plausible, to the credibility-straining, to over-the-top mayhem. (Anytime you want to bolster a sense of suburban normality before undercutting it, throw in a few golden retrievers and a tai chi class.) The rest of the film just doesn’t quite live up to this opening, and the first handful of newspaper gags.

Where “Bad Eggs” gets most bogged down is that everything to do with back-plot, motivation or character histories is written in through unfunny heavy-handed, talking head sequences. “Ooops, better do some explaining now, let’s get dull and slow”. The jokes deliver, but are usually telegraphed well in advance.

That said, there are some good performances and some terribly well delivered one-liners (shame 30% of them were used in the trailer). Mick Molloy and Bob Franklin, as the partnered bumbling cops in a crooked taskforce, play off against each other nicely; Franklin routinely outshining Molloy by putting some character into his performance, not just deadpan delivery.

Judith Lucy has a fair bit to carry as almost the only female presence in the film and turns in a predictably solid performance. Her romantic antagonism with Molloy really doesn’t spark, though, until the final sequence (which I found hil-ar-ious).

Shaun Micallef has a lovely turn as an oily State Premier, and Bill Hunter’s old-time cop is as accomplished as you’d expect. Alan Brough’s computer nerd was a surprisingly funny character whose appeal, as the SMH put it, is that he just moves through the film at his own pace, disjointed from the action about him.

Sometimes, though, you can’t help but hear the limit of the budget creaking, especially when the boom mike drops into shot.

Watchable, genuinely funny, but decidedly uneven.

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