Review: “Crackerjack”

A delightful old-fashioned Aussie comedy, “Crackerjack” takes a difficult subject – that of lawn bowls, and turns out a surprisingly consistent number of laughs from it without cheap attacks and in fact manages to instill some excitement. This is a film which isn’t afraid to take the piss out of itself and its main characters just as much as the subject matter and in fact has an almost nostalgic feel to it in regards to the issues of mateship and how values have changed. The comedy is very broad and whilst many gags can be seen a mile coming, they still work in producing consistent giggles.

Mick Molloy plays a character we know him best for – the wise-cracking very Australian slob whose got a clever little scam going. This is the comedian’s element which makes him a very agreeable lead, whilst ex-Late Show co-star and all round superb comedienne Judith Lucy is along for the ride with just as many jibes and insults as Molloy (most in fact are directed at him). Bill Hunter, Samuel Johnson, Monica Maughan, Frank Wilson, etc. all deliver great performances as the club bowlers whilst John Clarke does likeable schtick as the baddie of the piece. Even when the material gets a little flimsy, the superb comic talent help keep it buoyant.

The wheel of cheese, the swear jar, ‘Bingo’ and one hell of a fancy dress party are the highlight gags of the film, yet there’s not many true laugh out loud gags in this – more lots of little twitters. Molloy’s comedy is very Aussie and so the film will have a very hard sell overseas, also the embracing of old-fashioned values in many ways is a sweet theme but one which younger audiences will have a hard time empathising with. Sure its pretty basic comedy, but it works well and don’t be turned off by the subject matter – sport is rarely this funny.