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Backyard AshesAustralia 2013
Directed by Mark Grentell
Running time 90 minutes
It’s been a while since we’ve seen an ocker comedy and most people would say “thank god” for that. Occasionally, with films like The Castle and Kenny they rise above the familiar and even become classics of but more often they have a ring of irrelevancy, like throwbacks to the 1980s, the decade of their heyday, when Australia was still largely defined by the ocker image in films such as Emoh Ruo.
Backyard Ashes has some token recognition of the changed fabric of Australian society with the inclusion of an Indian and Asian (both males) but essentially it belongs with the post-colonial “you beaut, throw another shrimp on the barbie, ya bloody Pom” school of vernacular humour that was pilloried so well 40 years ago with The Adventures of Barry Mckenzie.
All the elements of the style are here: a dinki-di working class Aussie battler, Dougie (Andrew S. Gilbert), forced redundancies in a local factory, a pivotal gag of a cat incinerated on a high powered barbie that leads to a backyard cricket match for the feline's ashes between Dougie with his blue-collar mates and the toffee-nosed Poms headed up by the barren economic rationalist Edward (Felix Williamson), the Simon Legree character who was responsible for the sackings and has become Dougie's next-door neighbour.
The opening credits recognize the Wagga Wagga City Council (along with Screen Australia) as producers of the movie. Hopefully the strategy worked to create local employment. Gilbert and Williamson are both good sports but with a forced and sentimental narrative eked out with the help of classic bogan pop hits from the likes of The Angels and Rose Tattoo and a caricatural indulgence in old school white Australian colloquialisms it is hard to see it having much appeal beyond its immediate regional audience.
DVD Extras: Audio Commentary with director Mark Grentell and writer Peter Cox; Interviews, Behind-the Scenes footage; Stop motion clip - alternative opening; Wagga fund-raising concert; Wagga premiere video and "Take Me To The Backyard" music clip.
Available from: Umbrella Entertainment