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Australia 1994
Directed by
Bill Young
94 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

The Roly Poly Man

Synopsis: Dirk Trent (Paul Chubb) is a low rent private investigator who accidentally videotapes what appears to be a violent murder. Dismissed by the police he takes on the case himself, along with pathologist Dr Sandra Burnett (Susan Lyons), and his trusted assistant, Mickey (Les Foxcroft).

This low budget spoof of Raymond Chandler style private eye pulp fiction introduces giant blood-sucking slugs and victims with exploding heads in an absurdist, schlock horror, and decidedly Australian, way. The latter includes not just lashings of colloquialisms but having the main character, the titular roly poly man, build a replica of the Sydney Harbour Bridge out of cigarette butts (an art form which he refers to as "butt sculpture or fag modelling". Although sometimes a little try-hard, overall it's well done (and it could have been terrible) by actor (his roles include the Lieutenant in The Matrix and Detective Downie in Chopper ) and first time film director Bill Young from an inventive and amusing script by Kym Goldsworthy who makes merry with the Chandler style of first-person narration.

The script was written with Chubb, who had worked with the director in Sydney pub theatre, in mind, and in turn Chubb contributed to the character development. He is the fulcrum of the film but all the performances are excellent. Indeed, the production has the air of collective commitment and enthusiasm but disciplined by both talent and experience even if strapped for cash. Young, Goldsworthy and producer Peter Green were friends and neighbours who got the idea to combine their skills to make a feature film originated in 1991 during a Sunday barbeque. With such an offbeat concept it is surprising that they ever got the funding from the Film Finance Corporation and the New South Wales Film & Television Office to make the film so we should be grateful. Although the film was nominated for Best Screenplay at the AFIs it remains Young only film to date

Executive producer Jonathan Shteinman plays the yuppie deal maker with a mobile phone. and producer Peter Green played Detective Sergeant McKenzie, whilst Rowan Woods, who went on to direct The Boys plays Dr Wauchop, the entomologist. Environmentalist and TV presenter, Richard Morecroft, plays the newsreader and the appropriately-named rock group Exploding White Mice supplies the thrash metal music at Tony's Bar.




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