The memories of a lifetime, for all the wrong reasonsAfter a whirlwind romance, a British guy proposes to an Australian girl and returns a short while later with his oldest friends in tow for what promises to be a pretty chaotic wedding.
It’s likely you’ve heard little to nothing about A Few Best Men – a supposedly raucous antipodean comedy which clearly wants to exist in the same mould as The Hangover. And on first glance you might think there’s potential here, not least because director Stephan Elliot once helmed Pricilla, Queen of the Desert.Elliot hasn’t exact been making waves since though, with the watchable Eye of the Beholder a box office failure in 2000 and 2008s period drama Easy Virtue falling on deaf ears. For A Few Best Men, he’s teamed up with writer Dean Craig – who is the screenwriter behind not one but two versions of Death at a Funeral in a mere three year period. And neither of them were very good.
So expectations for A Few Best Men were hardly sky high and the film doesn’t go out of its way to change them. The script is formulaic beyond belief, relying on stereotypes from both the UK and Australia to populate a wafer thin plot which leans on all the clichés you can think of from this slight subgenre. There’s the scatological humour (this time involving the nethers of a sheep), a randy middle aged sort (Olivia Newton John) and they even stoop to throwing in some problems with a local drug dealer. Guess what – the lads accidentally steal some of his stash!
There’s no real narrative to speak of, things happen because they have to in order to other things to happen – while the characters react without ever building up any sense of why they’re doing so. One of them is openly suicidal yet no one is the slightest bit interested or concered. Given the chaos they are able to craft in a mere weekend in Oz, you have to wonder why the groom bothered to bring them.
Leading up this party of idiots is Xavier Samuel, best known for starring in one of them Twilight movies – he was Riley in Eclipse, he got deaded. A native aussie straining to keep that accent in check, he does an ok job but never really manages to get the audience on his side. The boys are made up of Kevin Bishop, Tim Draxl and Kris Marshall – who I can’t help associating with My Family for time immemorial. In truth, they work ok together, with Marshall playing the cool dude to the hilt (and sometimes succeeding) and the rest throwing themselves into the most ridiculous scenarios. Newton John is quite fun and Underbelly’s Steve Le Marquand gets some good moments as soft edged drug dealer Ray.
In the end, A Few Best Men is all a bit forgettable – this formula has been done to death in recent years and was far from new when Todd Phillips got his claws into it. Next to more lurid examples, the antics on display start to feel quite mundane. And we really didn’t need to spend so much time watching a sheep being interfered with.
Occasionally funny but never hilarious, with average performances and characters that never really manage to establish themselves, A Few Best Men is a watchable but instantly forgettable piece of throwaway entertainment that I’m surprised to see getting a theatrical release.