Wannabe horse handler Max Mackendrick (Marcus Graham) marries into horsey money to propel his chances, but his wife Alicia (Tushka Bergen) and her wealthy dad, famous trainer Barry (Bill Hunter), have little more than contempt for him by the time heís barred for life from the racecourse for horse substitution. Unfazed and optimistic of a successful appeal, Max enlists his friendly minder, Harry (Jason Donovan) in a scheme to fix the Melbourne Cup so he can make enough money to go solo. The plan goes terribly wrong.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
You have to admire filmmakers who take on perhaps the toughest genre of film in a country like Australia where genre filmmaking is at best faltering and where the funding mechanisms donít cater for it, the experience isnít there on the ground and the budget canít support the script development required. Horseplay is an ambitious mid budget film that had a lot of appeal at script stage, a black comedy with murder and sex, as producer Martin Fabinyi puts it, embracing many uniquely Australian elements, from the Melbourne Cup to intimate social and cultural snapshots.
The film is blessed with a great cast, who work their tits off for the cause, but there is a sense of ambiguity in the direction that keeps us at an uneasy distance from both the comedy and the black edge of the filmís elements. This results in some of the characters being dramatically structured, others being comedic. Likewise, the naturalistic, pop-comedy style of the filmís visual language is in conflict with its darker soul. Jason Donovanís is the standout performance here, totally real and edgy; Marcus Graham reveals a new and appealing flexibility, but they canít quite rescue the film from playing like a laboured joke. And Hugo Weavingís finely read narration feels like an add-on to the script, which seems to weigh on the filmís entertainment ambitions.
The DVD, technically fine with a crisp image and full sound, comes with a 12 minute Making Of featurette, which is a basic EPK with clips and interview grabs on location. The deleted scenes Ė about a dozen Ė are simply there to see, but without commentary they donít add much except time to the DVD.
Published October 30, 2003
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HORSEPLAY: DVD (M)
CAST: Marcus Graham, Craig Beamer, Tushka Bergen, Abbie Cornish, Jason Donovan, Amanda Douge, Bill Hunter, Damien Richardson, Terence Donovan and narrated by Hugo Weaving
DIRECTOR: Stavros Kazantzidis
SCRIPT: Stavros Kazantzidis, Allanah Zitserman
RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes
PRESENTATION: 2.35:1, 16:9 enhanced, DD 2.0 & 5.1; English
featurette, deleted scenes
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE
DVD RELEASE: October 22, 2003