When will the Aussie film industry produce another decent comedy? Not just yet it seems as the latest Aussie comedy film, cricket odyssey Save Your Legs barely raises a chuckle. Save Your Legs is based on an actual tour of India in 2001 by the lowly ranked Abbotsford Anglers Cricket Club. The tour was the subject of a 2005 documentary and director Boyd Hicklin felt there was scope for a feature length comedy-drama. Unfortunately, the comic potential of this scenario never found its way into the script.
Go-to guy for lovable larrikin comedies Stephen Curry plays Teddy Brown the president of the Abbotsford Anglers cricket team. He clings obsessively to the club as a way of staving off maturity and adult responsibilities. He also harbours a lifelong desire to meet his idol Sachin Tendulkar from whom he once stole a rather disturbing momento. Despite his team’s moderate abilities and astonishing lack of discipline, he somehow manages to enter them in a prestigious sub-continental tournament. The typical pressures of an Indian tour and his frivolous approach to life soon produce divisions within the team that threaten to turn the tour into a disaster.
The story is as much about men trying to cope with the responsibilities of creeping middle age as it is about cricket and while it makes a few poignant observations about childhood dreams evaporating, it’s hardly an insightful study of mid-life crises. The film also contains a half-baked love story between Stephen Curry and Indian woman Anjali (Pallavi Sharda), a romance some have suggested is deliberately coy and sex-free to appease conservative Indian audiences.
On a technical level Save Your Legs is often quite impressive. The vivid cinematography captures the frenzy of Indian street life and the film benefits greatly from an evocative soundtrack. Unfortunately, strip away the exotic international context and we have the same unfunny, quirky-man-child Aussie comedy that we’ve seen so many times before. The film resorts to broad humour with relentless gags about the white trash Aussie having an explosive reaction to Indian food.
The film also contains the usual roster of clichéd sports film characters: the arrogant star who feels threatened by the young ring-in, the quirky spiritual guy, the perpetually stoned party animal, the astonishingly un-athletic types who somehow make the team and corrupt slime-ball officials. None of these characters make any comic or dramatic impact except Darren Gilshenan who provides the film’s few amusing moments as the superbly nerdy stats-obsessed Colin.
One aspect of the film that deserves praise is the fact that these guys can actually play cricket. Damon Gameau, who plays the arrogant Stav, still seems to be channelling Greg Chappell, who he portrayed in the World Series Cricket mini-series, as he unleashes some stylish strokes.
It’s disappointing to note that while the Americans can create classic almost mythic films about baseball we can’t seem to get beyond lumbering, unfunny comedies such as this when it comes to our summer game.
Nick’s rating: Two and a half stars.
Director(s): Boyd Hicklin.
Release date: 28th Feb 2013
Running time: 92 mins.
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