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JOEY

SYNOPSIS:
Billy (Jamie Croft) lives in outback Australia with his mother Penny (Rebecca Gibney). A bit of a loner, he is keen to protect the kangaroo mob which inhabits the adjacent property, and of which Farmer Dixon (Errol OíNeill) wants to be rid. Dixon hires The Kangaroo Catcher (Harold Hopkins) who sedates the kangaroos and takes them to Sydney - all except Joey, who falls out of his motherís pouch. With the help of Mick (Tony Briggs), an Aboriginal farm hand, Billy runs away to Sydney, with baby Joey in the backpack, to save the kangaroos. There he is befriended by Linda (Alex McKenna), the daughter of the new American Ambassador, and eccentric animal activist Sylvia (Ruth Cracknell). Together they strive to reunite Joey with his parents and to save the kangaroos from a fate of illegal boxing matches.

"Joey suffers from the malaise of unsuccessful genre-bending (not to be confused with gender-bending). This new family film with a quintessentially Australian theme seems to try too hard to be too many different things - from spoof to family drama to story-with-a-moral; from realism to the absurd. Stuart Beattieís script is a mixed bag of characters who donít have enough charm to engage. There are some exceptions to this, namely Tony Briggs, who is solid as Mick, and Alex McKenna (Linda) who has a presence; the over-the-top media duo is whacky and amusing. Jamie Croft is likeable enough but has a limited range, while Rebecca Gibney is pretty bland in her role. The end result is a film that is totally contrived with a ho-hum script and patchy direction. Even the appeal of baby Joey and the kangaroos wonít be able to hop over the flaws in this."
Louise Keller

"Considering all the talents involved and the resources of the production company, Joey is a sad disappointment, as Louise notes, because we would have preferred to rave. The over-drawn characters on one hand and the two likeable kids on the other just donít balance, if thatís what was expected. Everything misfires, even the inventions which otherwise would have carried the film. Like the terrific Harold Hopkins character, Kanga Catcher, promoting the unique and illegal boxing sport at Kangaroo Kingdom. Like Kangaroo Kingdom itself. Like the secret service character (uncredited in the production notes), played for total spoofery by Danny Adcock but without any real purpose to the story - and almost funny enough to work. Tony Briggs gives an outstanding performance, and both Jamie Croft and Alex Mckenna are solid as the youngsters. There are some fine and even amusing moments, but not nearly enough, and the occasional glimpse of an inferior animatronic joey adds to this filmís woes."
Andrew L. Urban

"There are two types of kids' movies: those that insult the intelligence of the children, and those that don't. That's it, quite simply, and Australia has rarely produced a kid's film that falls into the latter category. Why? Because we don't have the writers to do it, those that have the sensibility to tap into the child's world. It's an adult's perspective of a child's world, rather than a child's perspective. Joey is a quizzical film, one that has an interesting premise and solid actors, with some dollops of humour. But its failure has to do with it not really knowing what film it is, as if it's taking all manner of bets to make it work, from farce, to adventure, to environmental grand-standing. Yet through it all, none of these are treated terribly well. And George Miller's Babe has a lot to answer for. Since the talking pig emerged, everyone's trying to get into the act, with overly cute animals; one would have thought that while Babe had a loving book and much preparation, films like Joey and Paws, are done so quickly, that they forget that to interest the child, the film's characters need to be interesting. And in Joey, they're not. There's no sense of character, so there's equally no sense of adventure. The comedy is forced and facile (there's stuff with bumbling cops that is just appalling) and the film never achieves its potential. Add to that Joey himself, a rather odd animatronic concoction, and you have a film that is entertaining to a point, but ultimately forgettable."
Paul Fischer



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JOEY (G)
(Australia)

CAST: Jamie Croft, Alex McKenna, Rebecca Gibney, Ed Begley Jr, Ruth Cracknell, Harold Hopkins, Danny Adcock

PRODUCER: Michael Lake

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Graham Burke, Robin Burke, Greg Coote

DIRECTOR: Ian Barry

SCRIPT: Stuart Beattie

STORY: Maxwell Grant and Stuart Beattie

CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Burr

EDITOR: Lee Smith

ANIMATRONICS SUPERVISOR: John Cox

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Peta Lawson

COSTUMES: Marion Boyce

RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 1997







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