Five years ago, ‘A Few Best Men’ arrived on screens to howls of outrage. Directed by ‘Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert’ helmer Stephan Elliot, it offered a myriad of puerile toilet humour for critics to be appalled by. The bad publicity generated helped it make big box office dollars as curious viewers wondered what the fuss was about. Now comes the sequel ‘A Few Less Men’. Elliot has dropped out of directing duties but this follow-up is still as juvenile as ever and sure to furrow even further movie critics’ brows.
David (Xavier Samuel), Tom (Kris Marshall) and Graham (Kevin Bishop) are life-long best friends. When a friend dies after they attend a wedding, they fly home to give his body to his family. Their plane crash-lands into the harsh outback, leaving the trio to think of ways to carry their deceased friend home. With lost clothes, wayward animals and peculiar people blocking their path, the lads despair at ever arriving at their destination as events conspire against them.
‘A Few Less Men’ is the type of production movie critics like to slam. Its plot is flimsy, its execution is terrible and the acting mostly dire. But it wasn’t made for critics. It was made as a potential money-making franchise. Crudity and innuendo have always been popular with general audiences with the 70’s ‘Carry On’-style humour fully on display. The script goes from one outlandish situation to another, full of smutty laughs, truly awful dialogue and embarrassed performers.
The only saving grace is the cinematography which captures the Australian landscape very well. ‘A Few Less Men’ is a gorgeous looking movie, which makes it more tragic that so much money was wasted on a mediocre screenplay. Sophisticated laughs seem old-hat in films these days, where it’s easier to indulge in gutter humour than sophisticated wit. Xavier Samuel equips himself with some dignity in his role, providing some sense of sanity in an insanely dire movie.
‘A Few Less Men’ presents a grotesque collage of lavatory humour that would make the cast of ‘Are You Being Served?’ blush. As usual, it will be a big hit based on its notoriety with the furrowed brow of this movie critic dug deeper than the bottom of the barrel this one scrapes.
Rating out of 10: 2
It’s very easy to be cynical about Christmas. From the early department store decorations to the barrage of tinsel everywhere, it’s understandable why the season grates. Such a time is ripe for mickey-taking which ‘Bad Santa 2’ does with glee. Hardly a comedy that would give Shakespeare pause, it also doesn’t wallow in fake sentimentality. It’s gritty and proud of it with the ‘bah humbug’ motif in overdrive with a Santa stores would hesitate to hire.
Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) is a thieving layabout always on the make. Scheming to steal more booty, he is ably assisted by sidekicks Marcus (Tony Cox) and Thurman (Brett Kelly). Aiming to knock off a charity on Christmas Eve, he dons a Santa suit to grab some loot. His plans go awry with the arrival of his horrid mother Sunny (Kathy Bates). As wicked as Willie, Sunny determines to score big. The bizarre rabble quickly scheme to bring their own black yuletide cheer while indulging in a spot of festive fisticuffs.
‘Bad Santa 2’ won’t win any Oscars and nor does it need to. It’s there to raise a few laughs at the expense of an over-hyped holiday period. It does this with ease as Mark Waters’ direction makes full use of the premise. Populated by a bunch of unlikeable miscreants, the plot goes from one gag to another. If one falls short there’s another quickly taking its place with the performer’s great comedic timing evident. Mostly free of bodily function jokes, the threadbare script makes an effort to create mirth which is welcome.
The cast is populated by old hands who know the routine by now. The main quartet of Thornton and company effortlessly gel as a team and manage to inject some humanity in their cartoonish characters. Their ability to switch from verbal to physical comedy is amusing to watch even if clichés creep into the screenplay. The entire film looks like a living comic book with plenty of colour and sound to keep the rhythm at a constant speed.
Although it’s a silly load of nonsense ‘Bad Santa 2’ offers breezy and crude laughs. A message or two can be found amongst the hijinks but it’s generally a vehicle for skewering the festive season. It does so well turning the once sacred motif of jingle bells into a definite version of unholy jingle hells.
Rating out of 10: 6