In order to get cheap parking, lay-about call centre operator Jack Simpson (Mick Molloy) is an anyonymous member of the Cityside Lawn Bowls Club. When the club hits financial trouble thanks to a shifty businessman (John Clarke) who threatens to buy it out and install poker machines, its elder statesmen (Frank Wilson, Bill Hunter) force Jack to play in bowls tournaments to save the club. To keep his cheap parking, Jack begrudgingly learns to bowl, but soon finds plenty of rewards among the slow moving world of the white uniformed folk. Even love with another acid-tongued young member (Judith Lucy).
Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
If the time-warp world of lawn bowls ever wanted a spokesperson, Mick Molloy is it. Sure, he might be scruffy, uncouth, half the age of his nearest competitor and likes his beer too much, but he has the kind of old world charm these die-hard clubs need. Molloy toured Australia promoting the movie when it came out last year, and I interviewed him (and Lucy) at a suburban bowls club not unlike the one in the film. He fit right in, enjoying a few too many middies with the jovial members and cheering them on as they marched out for a tournament. Molloy's passion shone through - not just for the grand old sport, but for the tradition it preserves, the camaraderie, the social outlet, and the old fashioned world that lives within each club around Australia (not to mention the "genuine 1950s prices" of beer).
Molloy and his co-writing brother Richard have fashioned a lovingly gentle Aussie comedy, avoiding the temptation to stereotype old-fogies for cheap laughs. Instead, they've done the opposite, injecting it with mutual respect where just as many laughs are had at the scruffy "youngsters" as the slow-motion retirees (perhaps more). Having travelled the country's bowls clubs for research, and undoubtedly downing plenty of middies over lively conversations and stories, the Molloys have come up with a lovable low-budget Aussie beaut.
The DVD release is a crackerjack too. It has two commentaries; a serious one with director Paul Moloney, director of photography Brent Crockett and producer Luby, and a less serious one with Mick and Richard Molloy and a late-arriving Judith Lucy (whose dry wit is not only the best feature of the commentary, but the movie too). Find out who really drove the Toyota Crown in the car park and how to keep 20 heads of beer topped up during takes.
There are five deleted scenes with optional commentary from Molloy. At times he struggles- especially during the excruciating car chase sequence – but it's still worth a look. He describes some editing decisions as tough while laughing riotously at others. Next is three alternate "flippers", which puts different sound to an identical scene, supposedly highlighting the importance of sound effects, but lacking an explanatory commentary.
The Behind the Scenes featurette is a tribute to the real heroes of the lawn bowl circuit, and their passion for a sport you have to participate in to fully appreciate (and believe). Filmed on a hand-held camera, it playfully intercuts scenes, crew antics, umbrella twirling, comments on Molloy's over-acting and extras asking for autographs. Included on the DVD are four pages of stills, the theatrical trailer and television spots. There's also the quirky swear jar.
Overall, Crackjack makes for both a cracker Aussie comedy and DVD. It's great to see cast, crew and extras hamming it up, having fun, and speaking from the heart.
Published May 15, 2003
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CRACKERJACK: DVD (M) - 2002
CAST: Mick Molloy, Judith Lucy, Bill Hunter, John Clarke, Samuel Johnson,
DIRECTOR: Paul Moloney
RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes
PRESENTATION: 1:85:1 widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1
SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary featuring Mick Molloy
(Writer/Producer/Actor), Richard Molloy (Co-writer) and Judith Lucy (Actor);
Audio Commentary featuring Paul Moloney (Director), Brent Crockett (DOP) and
Stephen Luby (Producer); Deleted Scenes with commentary; Alternate
"Flippers"; Stills Gallery; TVC's; Swear Jar; Behind the Scenes; Theatrical
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: May 7, 2003