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Australia 2006
Directed by
Kevin Carlin
88 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


Synopsis: Benny G (Glenn Robbins), the frontman for BoyTown, a hit '80s boy band, decides to give fame and fortune another call twenty years later. The boys get together and head for the top of the pops.

Given the potential for an unmitigated disaster with this unrelenting cringe-fest, BoyTown is a generally likeable comedy.

Based on a sketch idea by Mick Molloy's fellow comedian Glenn Robbins (and used on Molloy's short lived TV comedy series), as a feature film the concept is risky. Boy bands are by their nature ephemeral entities and locked in a certain time of their fans' lives. The idea of a resurgence two decades later is improbable, particularly as the physical appearance of Molloy and his fellow cast members are so wrinkled and misshapen by age that even to play forty year olds, let alone young men in their twenties, is a stretch. Surprisingly, the creative team behind and in front of the camera manage to pull it off. That the '80s themselves were an unrivalled kitsch-fest probably helped  The first part of the film, in which the boys attempt to reproduce their former selves with some awful music videos is suitably wince-inducingly bad.

Then the film shifts gear when the lads realize that they need to grow up and sing about issues relevant to their fan base. They start writing songs with titles like "Special Time Of The Month" and "Cellulite Lady" and the spirit of the film rises to celebrate their success as they embark upon their "Love Handles" World Tour. The esult is good-hearted enough to keep a smile on your face. Had Molloy and his co-writer brother Richard (who together also wrote the 2002 lawn bowls comedy Crackerjack), kept to this trajectory the film would probably enjoy quite a satisfactory reception. Wrapping up a film is always the hardest part of a production, especially in comedy, but the film-makers manage it by taking the kitsch factor up a notch in a cornball apotheosis. 

Whilst not setting the world on fire, BoyTown is well-enough made, with excellent production values, a solid script, good performances (UK actress Sally Phillips is a winning presence and Glenn Robbins with his familiar self-deprecating manner is as good as ever) and a steady directorial hand affording an unusually high quotient of cinematic satisfaction for a comedy, homegrown or otherwise.




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