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LET'S GET SKASE

SYNOPSIS:
Con man and failed entrepreneur Peter Dellasandro (Lachy Hulme) convinces the Creditors Board of the collapsed Qintex business empire that he is the only man with the ability and recklessness to kidnap Christopher Skase, who fled Australia to Majorca to avoid the consequences. Danny D’Amato (Alex Dimitriades), son of the Board chairman and Dellasandro form an alliance and try to recruit flamboyant TV host Eric Carney (Craig McLachlan), until they discover he has a scheme of his own. Eager to pip him at the post, they recruit their own team under the baton of mercenary Mitch Vendieks (Bill Kerr), with inept Sean Knight (Torquil Neilson), dubious getaway driver Dave Phibbs (Nick Sheppard) and intelligence cynic Ruperb Wingate (Adam Haddrick), who learn that Skase is planning to resurrect his business empire in Europe. [Note: Christopher Skase died in Majorca in August 2001.)

The logic is improbable; the result is very funny. Let's Get Skase is a rip snorter of an Aussie comedy, filled with the larrikin spirit and tumbling over with off-the-wall concepts. Of course the question needs to be asked: is it in bad taste? The answer is mostly no, although there is one scene towards the film's end which could rock the see saw either way. Matthew George's explosive and adrenalin pumping wacky trip is a blast, a fun nonsense blend of slapstick, one liners and top performances. Never taking itself too seriously, the humour hit compounds by sharp editing and juxtapositioning scenes in a delectable way, often impacting when you least expect it. Comedy is serious business, and most effective when played that way. The ultimate test is when you laugh despite yourself, at the end of a tough day. Appealing to my sense of ridiculous, I was amused by the notions, exploded with laughter at much of the action and even shed a brief tear during an unexpected poignant moment. This light and shade is also well reflected in Craig Bryant's varied soundtrack. George and Lachy Hulme's script is energetic, fast paced and never runs out of ideas. As for Hulme's performance – it's carefully judged showmanship that never steps over the line. Hulme's Peter is a vision to behold with his Barry Gibb 60s hairdo, cocky swagger and flamboyant wardrobe. He is repulsive, but we can't help liking him. The entire cast is excellent with special mention to Alex Dimitriades, whose comic timing is a wonderful surprise and Torquil Neilson's bland delivery. As for Craig McLachlan, I am still chuckling at every second of his screen time: from the moment his well developed right pec began to twitch. McLachlan hogs the screen with a high camp, totally divine performance that has all the bases covered. We never have time to wonder where the film is leading us, but when we finally reach Majorca for the memorable Skase party scene, the pay off is dealt in spades. In case you're wondering, we do meet Skase and Pixie at the party (Wayne Hassell and Dianne West are extraordinary) for an encounter you are never likely to forget. Guaranteed to make you laugh, Let's Get Skase is a rort you should try.
Louise Keller

In September 2001, Australians had a chance to get a sense of vicarious revenge against one of the public’s favourite whipping boys – the banks. Robert Connolly’s The Bank had a simple message: he hates banks. A month later, Aussies can get another revenge fix at the expense of the now deceased Christopher Skase, possibly the most reviled businessman of the 80s – reviled not for failing but for failing to turn up and face the music. Let’s Get Skase was a promise taken long before Skase died, and you can’t help wondering whether the film is now a victim of bad timing. Everyone has to make up their own mind about that, but as a piece of action comedy, Let’s Get Skase is a terrific achievement and demonstrates that Australian films can be as commercial in this genre as anyone else. Excellent casting helps, of course, as does a roguish script which knows exactly where to go to get the laughs. Craig McLachlan could be jailed for stealing so many scenes, but Lachy Hulme keeps a solid grip on his re-invention of the real Peter Delassandro. And just as Julia Roberts looked overdressed until you saw the real Erin Brokovich . . . Anyway, the good news is that the film manages to entertain for its entire running time, with a polished and stylish look and a sense of humour that is neither ham fisted nor silly. Whether you were a Skase chaser or not, the film will kidnap your funny bone for a while.
Andrew L. Urban

While the makers of this poorly timed Aussie action-comedy claim the unforeseen death of Christopher Skase will not affect ticket sales, it's undeniably creepy to see the disgraced former billionaire resurrected so soon. Then again, the 'Skase' in this movie (played by a lookalike) is less a historical human being than a mythical supervillain – a fabulously decadent, sexually dubious cross between Dr Strangelove and Dorian Gray. For much of the movie he remains out of sight in his Majorca mansion, before emerging at the climax in his iconic wheelchair and oxygen mask; he then discards these props and rises ceremonially to his feet, showing off his glowing good health to an adoring Eurotrash crowd. Something like this scene has been imagined countless times by the Australian media, but it plays much more strangely now we know that our fantasised revenge on Skase will never take place, and that when it came to illness he ultimately wasn't kidding. From one angle the film now seems like Skase's monument, a tribute to an anti-hero who was envied as much as loathed. Part of the moral ambiguity is intentional - Skase's would-be nemesis Peter Dellasandro is a conman in his own right, a gold-medallioned sleazebag who might have stepped straight out of The Wogboy (or Shirley Barrett's Walk The Talk). With Dellasandro delivering motivational speeches at every turn, Let's Get Skase is also pretty clearly a film about low-budget filmmaking – the obsessive dreaming, the struggle to hold a team together, the constant hustling for money. In asking the board to back his kidnap plan, Dellasandro is essentially pitching a script (he even designs a set of spin-off action figures). Both the film and its hero seem driven by a hardnosed, very modern, very male type of energy, a pleasure in being hip to business jargon and making a commercial bid for fame and glory. Under most circumstances, the filmmakers would probably succeed: despite some rough edges, this is a fairly solid piece of light entertainment. It would be a shame if Skase wound up posthumously sabotaging their efforts – though it might also be seen as poetic justice.
Jake Wilson



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

DVD Release May 22, 2002

Read Andrew L. Urban's interview with
LACHY HULME

See the TRAILER

LET’S GET SKASE (M)
(Aust)

CAST: Lachy Hulme, Alex Dimitriades, Craig McLachlan, Bill Kerr, Torquil Neilson, Nick Sheppard, Torquil Nelson, Adam Haddrick

DIRECTOR: Matthew George

PRODUCER: John Tatoulis, Colin South, Sue Taylor

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Joel Pearlman

SCRIPT: Matthew George, Lachy Hulme

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Justin Brickle

EDITOR: Michael Collins

MUSIC: Craig Bryant

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ralph Moser

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 18, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: April 10, 2002







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