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Australia 1985
Directed by
Dusan Makavejev
93 minutes
Rated M

1.5 stars

The Coca-Cola Kid

It is indicative of how times have changed that The Coca-Cola Kid was shown in compettion at Cannes the year of it release although the reason was probably more to do with the fact that director Makavejev was a highly regarded Yugoslavian auteur, best known for his 1971 film WR: Mysteries Of  The Organism, than for any intrinsic merits the film has. And frankly there aren’t many of those.
Although it might have seemed a good idea at the time, getting an avant-garde, radical Left Eastern bloc director to helm a satire about Australian-American cultural conflict doesn’t come off.  American actor, Eric Roberts, who had just appeared in Star 80 and The Pope Of Greenwich Village and was at the outset of a hard-working career, plays a hot-shot marketing man sent Downunder to check on the Aussie’s performance. There he meets a gaggle of laid back Antipodeans, including a sexy single mum (Greta Scacchi) as a PA, whose father (Bill Kerr) is a maverick cola manufacturer..   

The script by Frank Moorhouse, cobbled together from his two collections of short stories, The Americans Baby and The Electric Experience, is lacking in inspiration, the acting mostly awful (apparently Roberts was uncomfortable on set, being estranged by local methods  and he and Scacchi did not get along) and the film’s various ironic digs at Australian icons (the Opera House, a didgeridoo-playing Aborigine, a cockatoo and so on) come across more as pandering to an American audience than anything remotely approaching wit and the satire is too forced (Roberts seems to be playing an American) to be effective. Then there’s the tacky 80s wardrobe and music seen at its worst in a cross-dressing party-scene in the latter part of the film when the uptight Becker has his sexuality challenged in what was another popular theme at the time. Other than doing justice to Ms Scacchi’s naked form there is little that this film gets right.

DVD Extras: The Real Thing – a 40m interview with Greta Scacchi and producer David Roe; Theatrical trailer.

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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