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Australia 2003
Directed by
Anthony Mir
97 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Mike Esler
2.5 stars

You Can't Stop The Murders

You Can’t Stop The Murders is a pleasant little time filler with a few laughs and a standout performance from Akmal Saleh as Constable Akmal. Saleh is a natural comic with an Adam Sandleresque sense of vulnerability and eagerness to please. In Murders he is the ebullient offsider of Constable Gary, played with apt moronity by Gary Eck. The two professional comedians co-wrote the film with director Anthony Mir. Mir himself plays the third main character, Detective Tony Charles.

Briefly – and believe me there’s not much under the surface folks – local coppers in an Aussie backwater town are confronted with a series of gruesome murders. A smart-arse city detective with a big gun is sent to solve the crimes. Throw in lots of lesser known stand-up and sit down comedians playing township characters (Richard Carter, Bob Franklin, Kitty Flanagan, Sandman) a love interest, multiple goofy goings-on and a subplot about line-dancing and you have this 97 minute farrago that does for The Village People what Xanadu did for ELO – without using their music! Hmm... At least this is played deadpan, which works in its favour.

Australian feature-film comedy is a vast, mostly featureless desert and for the life of me I can’t see why. Working Dog’s The Castle is a notable exception. It seems most of our real comedic stock is trapped inside the telly where even talent-shy performers do quite nicely for a living.

The first film I ever laughed out loud at was Stork. It was original, tasteless and funny. Since then the pickings have been lean, Hoges, Yahoo, Muriel, and Priscilla notwithstanding. Unfortunately Murders does little to stoke the fires of hope. As with The Nugget it’s about dickheads being dickheads. Fair enough - it’s a comedy, not My Brilliant Career. We don’t care a rats about the characters and this leaves little else for us to do but seek a superficial laugh or two. In fairness there are some there. But myself and a woman behind me were pretty much the only two in the cinema to find them.

Comedy has to be the toughest genre to pull off. Infuriatingly, I have already seen a review on this film describing it as "quirky". Try dropping that little gem into a huddle of Australian producers/writers/directors etc. Lynching material and rightly so, to the point where I once attended an industry seminar somewhere that was dubbed "Beyond Quirky". The creative and production teams behind movies like You Can’t Stop The Murders need passion to get their project up and they earn my total admiration for that – it’s just so difficult nowadays, bordering on "forget it". But in turn they best not be upset when viewers greet their effort with a tepid response – which I’m guessing this film will get.




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