Shaun Micallef sure does have a quirky sense of humour. Why else would he appear in The Cup – the sort of movie he usually sends up on his TV shows. Playing one of the pivotal protagonists he seems to be the only one having some fun in this classic example of the ‘tragedy, tears and triumph’ genre. Although ticking all of the dramatic boxes with ease, it is a poor local production where style definitely wins over substance.
Damien Oliver (Stephen Curry) is a jockey aiming for the top prize. Racing in the 2002 Melbourne Cup, he hopes to achieve his goal of becoming the best in his field. A few days before the big event, tragedy strikes when his brother is killed during a horse-race. Devastated; his intense focus is shattered with certain defeat on the horizon. Wanting to win for his brother, Damien forges a stronger will in order to carry out his dreams and claim the rewards on behalf of his family.
There is no denying the amazing human spirit shown in The Cup. Based on true events where Oliver became the toast of his country, his story is one making perfect fodder for cinema. Unfortunately The Cup fails in almost every regard with its ham-fisted delivery. Stilted, poorly written and woefully acted, it feels like a cheap TV movie eliciting little merit. Whilst the racing scenes are well staged, everything else is simply a mess with those involved painted with a rose-coloured brush as to make them look Saint-like.
Considering The Cup was under the directorial stewardship of Simon Wincer it makes viewing doubly disappointing. Once an acclaimed director of movies such as Phar Lap, here he resorts to pointless celebrity cameos and gratuitous product placement to spice up proceedings. These add nothing to the generally clichéd story with dialogue so bad even the actors seem embarrassed saying them.
There’s a great story to be told about the Melbourne Cup but this isn’t it. Lazily adhering to the usual cinematic story-telling techniques in presenting its ‘inspirational’ tale, The Cup has little to recommend it other than wondering why usually good actors would appear in such bland dross.
Movie Review Rating 1 / 10
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at current movie releases in Australia.