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BOYTOWN

SYNOPSIS:
Benny G (Glenn Robbins), Tommy Boy (Mick Molloy), Bobby Mac (Bob Franklin), Carl (Wayne Hope), and Corey (Gary Eck) were the members of 1980s superstar boy band, BoyTown, who attempt a comeback, targeting the grown up women of their own generation. Benny G's wife Holly (Sally Phillips) - an ex pop star in her own right, now happy in motherhood - is not that keen on the idea, but the boss of their original and now successful record label Marty Boomstein (Lachy Hulme), bankrolls the plan for old times' sake, but after a while the wheels come off the comeback tour and 20 year old secrets come out.

Review by Louise Keller:
The premise that a group of now middle aged blokes with bald patches and paunches re-form the successful 80s band that made them objects of hysteria promises a hearty laugh. But our expectations are not met. There are smiles, a few chuckles, but not many laughs in this gentle and warm-hearted script from comic Mick Molloy and his brother Richard, who brought us Crackerjack in 2002. The central idea works better than the execution in BoyTown, a comic spoof that falls flat, although is not totally out of tune.

Firstly, we meet the five former members of the boy band as they are today. There's Wayne Hope's Carl, the gay construction worker in tight shorts; Bob Franklin's Bobby Mac, the toupee wearing literature lecturer; Gary Eck's Corey's bumbling small-time radio announcer; Mick Molloy's Tommy Boy couch potato, and Glenn Robbins' Benny G who teaches physical education. The characters are likeable enough, but they are never grounded in any kind of reality. Hence the stakes are not real. Lachy Hulme's hot-shot record label manager Marty is simply a caricature.

What works best are the characters that are grounded. Sally Phillips' down-to-earth Holly is warm and real, as is her screen daughter Katie (Sarah Walker), and Lois Ramsey's Gran, who endearingly (but questionably) spends her life ironing Tommy Boy (Molloy)'s underpants. It is the subtle observations of these characters in every day situations that provide the mainstay of the film. Visual gags of old record covers, dinky choreography and cringe costuming are like amusing one-liners, and Gareth Skinner's original song concepts and lyrics ('take as long as you want in the bathroom...') are a hoot. Musically, however, it is hard to go along for the ride, while the sudden BoyTown resurgence and whirlwind world tour is pretty unbelievable, whirling above our heads. And the attempt to include meaningful issues of infidelity and paternity fizzle totally in the artificial environment.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
While applauding the slightly riskier aspects of the material - especially the black ending, even if it's tinged with pastel - it is difficult to applaud for its entire running time a comedy that so resolutely avoids making connections with reality. Or grounding the central characters (Sally Phillips' Holly and her daughter Katie played by Sarah Walker excepted). Consequently the film has the hallmarks of a 7 minute tv sketch in which a potentially funny idea about a boyband comeback is ramped up (to well over an hour) with funny wardrobe and exotic but off-screen locations (like Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro), some awful pop tunes and a fake concert or two. The low budget patch-ups are all too visible only emphasising the fakery of the entire enterprise.

Not only is the writing too thin, too simplistic and full of cliché (like Lachy Hulme's record label boss and his entire setting) the ideas that could have made the film work (like new songs for an older demographic) are all driven by 'hey, wouldn't it be funny if ...' And no, it wouldn't. Humour, especially humour that scrapes against satire and relies on accuracy, cannot be created without truth - and painful truth at that. There is a tiny inkling that this is perhaps recognised in the deep recesses of the filmmakers' collective subconscious when we come to the revelation of a secret affair within the band, and finally at the end. But this is far too little and far too late.

Musically bad but in a boring way not a funny way, the film also spoofs itself, which is guaranteed to lock us out of its world. The original band was woeful and this makes the whole mess unbelievable. The half hearted attempt at showing the BoyTown members as middle aged men isn't funny as they were nerds to begin with. Any sense of reality in the comeback is undercut with ghastly comedy routines that shouldn't even survive a tv director's judgement. If there is nothing real to laugh at, it ain't funny.

Mick Molloy fared better with his screenplay for Crackerjack, but experienced and talented tv director Kevin Carlin's earlier foray into film with The Extra suffered from a similar weakness.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 2
Mixed: 0

BOYTOWN (M)
(Aust, 2006)

CAST: Glenn Robbins, Mick Molloy, Bob Franklin, Wayne Hope, Gary Eck, Sally Phillips, Lachy Hulme, Lois Ramsey, Sarah Walker

PRODUCER: Mick Molloy, Greg Sitch

DIRECTOR: Kevin Carlin

SCRIPT: Mick Molloy, Richard Molloy

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mark Wareham

EDITOR: Angie Higgins

MUSIC: Gareth Skinner

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Penny Southgate

RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 19, 2006







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