CHARLIE & BOOTS
The death of Grace (Peggy Thompson) leaves Charlie (Paul Hogan) devastated and withdrawn. His older son, Boots (Shane Jacobson) wants to put their long standing differences aside and drags Charlie, at first reluctantly, into the car for the trip of a lifetime from Victoria to Cape York, for a spot of fishing off the country's northernmost tip, something long promised but never accomplished. Along the way, they make a few stops and meet a few people, and learn more about each other and the dramas that ruptured their lives.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Returning to odd couple comedy territory after Strange Bedfellows (2004) with Paul Hogan and Michael Caton, Dean Murphy teams Hogan with Shane Jacobson this time, on a road movie about a father-son relationship - as distinct from the buddy adventure of Bedfellows. Like the earlier film, Charlie & Boots is inoffensive and even sweet at times, rather like a friendly puppy. It's a bit scant for a movie, though, and the underlying tension between the men that is supposed to provide the grist is never properly realised. This omission leaves the film with very little traction, and while we are happy to go along for this lengthy ride in the old Kingswood (a nice iconic touch), the journey doesn't really satisfy.
Paul Hogan, though, delivers a trademark Charlie, albeit somewhat older than the Hoges we remember from the old days. His laconic character has echoes of the old glory days, and the teaming with Shane Jacobson is effective. Jacobson is likeable and sympathetic as the son who is trying to get his old man back on track - and their relationship in order, but he's also let down by a screenplay that skirts around the dramatic content in favour of a comedic road movie.
At times disconcertingly like a movie vying for Tourism Australia awards, Charlie & Boots has pit stops and commentary from the lads as the road takes them from Victoria through NSW and up through Queensland. But even this seems half hearted and lacks the bite needed to fire up our juices - despite a rodeo romp and a crazy flight in a three seater plane tentatively piloted by Roy Billing's entertaining and dryly low-key Roly. Morgan Griffin is terrific as Jess, a young wanna be country singer on the way to Tamworth in the company of her boyfriend, a jerk who becomes part of one of their little escapades. But none of the various elements come together is a cohesive dramatic way, and seem like sketches put together to string onto the journey for something to do.
A tough, hard nosed script editor might have demanded more grit in the screenplay to give the film some ballast.
Review by Louise Keller:
The shrimp's not on the barbie but on the end of a fishing line this time in Paul Hogan's first return to the screen since Strange Bedfellows in 2004. Surprisingly the pairing of Hogan with Shane Jacobson is not as funny as that of Hogan and Michael Caton in Dean Murphy's earlier film, but there are parallels including its all-important rural setting. In fact, Charlie & Boots could almost be hailed as the tourist guide to Rural Australia. While the themes of Murphy's story are about loss, guilt and the all-important bond between father and son, the road trip narrative is almost an aside, whereas the real deal is about spending time with Hoges and Jacobson.
It starts with a funeral and a fridge filled with casseroles on the inside and photos on its door. The food is quickly demolished but the echoes of the loved ones in the photos linger throughout as Jacobson's Boots drags his Dad, Charlie (Hogan), against his will into his trusty, dusty Kingswood and heads for the northern tip of Australia. There are beautiful sunsets, colourful characters, some lame jokes and a taste of True Blue during the many miles they have to cover. The biggest laugh comes from the revelation of Boots' real name, which we discover after seeing a giant koala (not a real one), downing strawberries at the Victorian border, meeting an aspiring country singer (Morgan Griffin, lovely) and swerving to avoid some crusty female bowlers in Hay. We slurp thick shakes in Tenterfield, become alarmed by tattooed female truckies and share confidences by a crackling camp fire.
Much of what transpires has genuine laid back charm, although bursts of humour, like the unhappy inclusion and execution of the old joke about a pig crossing the road, falls flat. Hoges, like Charlie, starts to warm up as the road trip takes hold and it is certainly a pleasure to meet seasoned pros like Roy Billing along the way (as a servo-owner and occasional pilot). For those in the know, Transmission's Richard Payton and co-producer Deb Fryers make cameo appearances, and by the time we pass the Atherton Tablelands, the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Forrest (it sounds a bit like a tourist advertisement), we are almost at our destination. Jacobson and Hogan are a congenial pair although Boots is never given the kind of depth offered to Caton's Ralph from Murphy's earlier work.
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CHARLIE & BOOTS (M)
CAST: Paul Hogan, Shane Jacobson, Roy Billing, Deborah Kennedy, Morgan Griffin, Alec Wilson, Val Lehman, Reg Evans, Anne Phelan, Lisa N. Edwards
PRODUCER: Dean Murphy, David Redman, Shane Levine
DIRECTOR: Dean Murphy
SCRIPT: Dean Murphy, Stewart Faichney
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Roger Lanser
EDITOR: Peter Carrodus
MUSIC: Dale Cornelius
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ralph Moser
RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 3, 2009