HONOURABLE WALLY NORMAN, THE: DVD
Wally Norman (Kevin Harrington) is the foreman at the local meatworks, a typical Aussie family bloke in a bush town. He’s dragged into politics when veteran would-be politician Willy Norman (Alan Cassell), in a whisky-induced blur, puts Wally’s name instead of his own on the nomination form as a candidate for Federal Parliament, against the arrogant F. Ken Oates (Shaun Micallef). Willy’s sidekick Myles (Nathaniel Davison) convinces Wally to run, and Wally’s family are right behind him, but his tendency to faint when making a speech is just one of the hurdles Wally has to overcome if he is to go to Canberra and be a voice for the people. The other is the crooked deal between his political opponent and the scheming Willy.
Review by Louise Keller:
Good hearted Wally Norman may find a more appreciative audience on DVD than it did in theatres around Australia. Corrupt pollies, an honest wally and the meddling media are the themes of this Aussie comedy which amuses in parts, but is never the satirical knockout we would like it to be.
It’s a gentle comedy about an ordinary family man propelled by accident into the cut-throat world of politics. Inspired by the very Australian name of a man who ran a successful agency for variety artists in the Southern Sydney suburb of Kogarah for many years, the writers have taken the name and created a fictional ‘man of the people’ who becomes an unlikely hero, despite himself. Dingo or drongo? That is the question the television station asks as they look at Wally’s mishaps, as he puts his foot in his mouth and blunders badly in his bid to become a politician. This is a man who faints at the thought of making a speech, and is more at home in the pub having a ‘cold one’ with his mates.
A devoted family man, Wally is more passionate about his son’s winning the local goat race in a two-wheeler contraption drawn by the family goat, than driving his hand at politics. But when he is pushed into standing – and ends up sitting – life around him changes. Television comedy director Ted Emery has made a film that offers some laughs by its depiction of an ordinary bloke with strong family values and no particular ambitions who is thrust into the dog-eat-dog world of ambitious politicians and the fickle media.
It’s an easy-going, enjoyable romp, but while we can laugh along with the fun and games, the film lacks pathos and drama that would make it a much more rewarding affair. There is little depth to the characters, resulting in their becoming caricatures rather than real people. Undoubtedly, this is a concept that would sit more comfortably as a tv sitcom, and Emery is the right man to sit at that helm. Kevin Harrington is a likeable enough Wally while Shaun Micallef’s smarmy larger-than-life politician is easy to loathe, and Tom Budge’s weasel-like Willie is as slippery as a snake. For me, the highlight is the inspired casting of advertising man John Singleton in a cameo as the Prime Minister – it’s a fun moment and it does tickle my fancy. The Honourable Wally Norman is a formulaic film with a predictable happy ending and although there are some chuckles along the way, it’s not especially memorable, nor does it command repeated viewing.
There’s an audio commentary on the DVD, plus a behind the scenes feature with cast and crew, trailer and a Sydney Film Festival video message from Shaun Micallef.
Published April 1, 2004
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HONOURABLE WALLY NORMAN, THE: DVD (M)
CAST: Kevin Harrington, Tom Budge, Bryan Dawe, Reg Evans, Rosalind Hammond, Shaun Micallef, Greig Pickhaver, Keith Robinson, Bruce Venables, Octavia Barron-Martin, Alan Cassell
DIRECTOR: Ted Emery
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16: 9 widescreen; 5.1 Audio
SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary; behind the scnes with cast and crew; theatrical trailer; Sydney Film Festival Video Message from Shaun Micallef; Photo Gallery
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Magna Pacific
DVD RELEASE: (Rental) March 31, 2004