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Australia 1972
Directed by
Bruce Beresford
114 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie

On the surface. it is hard to believe that so many talented people including director Beresford, co-writer Barry Humphries (who plays Aunt Edna amongst other roles), producer Phillip Adams, cinematographer Don McAlpine and so on were involved in such unrelieved low brow dinki-di humour. Whilst earning critical opprobrium for their trouble they laughed all the way to the bank as this fillum was a huge popular success and is credited as one of the kick-starters for the Australian film industry which had since WW2 virtually disappeared. Although not necessarily making it artistically any better, in hindsight it is a remarkably prescient film, anticipating the gross-out style of comedy of the Farrellys et al by a good quarter century,

The McKenzie character started life as a cartoon, penned by Humphries for Private Eye, the satirical magazine started by Peter Cook, no stranger to gross-out as anyone who has heard his Derek and Clive routines knows (Cook appears in the film as does Spike Milligan). Needless to say, there is a good deal of withering lampooning that gives the film a double-edge as it laughs both with and it is characters.

An undoubted cultural artefact that as a stereotype has been superseded by time, Barry Crocker makes an excellent Bazza, in his portrayal of the part-naive, part-ignorant beer-swilling, sexist, racist, homophobic bronzed Aussie. The English come in for a merciless beating as Barry is swindled in Earl’s Court, introduced to the prats and perverts of England’s upper classes (Dennis Price lends himself graciously for the purpose) before landing amongst the poofters and lezzos of Notting Hill. It was followed by sequel, Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, that maintained the standard if not improving on it.

DVD Extras: This Umbrella 2 disc "Chunderama" release is a considerable improvement over the previously available Magna Pacific edition. Not only do we get a brand new 16:9 transfer (ratio 1.85:1) but there's a host of extras including an all-new 2 hour documentary featuring interviews with key cast and crew; a never-seen-before deleted scene and a Dame Edna introduction to the film; 6 short fillums and TV commercials either made by Beresford or featuring Humphries/Everage; Original Theatrical Trailer; Stills and Poster Gallery and PDF of the film script.

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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