Friday, January 26, 2018

Movie Review … Swinging Safari

‘Swinging Safari’ is the latest film from director Stephan Elliot.  Famous for overseeing ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’, Elliot’s career since has been hit and miss.  Films such as ‘Eye of the Beholder’ and ‘A Few Best Men’ have diluted the welcome audiences afforded him.  Comedy can be difficult to do with everyone’s humour different.  ‘Swinging Safari’ is definitely better than his previous work.  Mostly forgoing crudity in favour of witty characterisation, the cinematic larrikin in Elliot is still evident with a wink in the eye never too far away.

Fourteen year old Jeff (Atticus Marsh) is living in the 1970’s with a carefree attitude.  Continually searching for adventure, he finds it when a 200 ton whale is washed ashore.  Sparking interest in the town in which it appears, the whale makes Jeff’s surrounds a tourist mecca. This is much to the delight of a few of the residents including Keith (Guy Pearce), Kay (Kylie Minogue) and Jo (Radha Mitchell). Indulging in the sexual revolution as well as boozy outings, the adults have a whale of a time in an era where taste was a rare commodity.

After the absolute drudgery of his previous films, ‘Swinging Safari’ finds Elliot almost back on form.  It still isn’t as great as ‘Priscilla’ but more bearable to watch than ‘A Few Best Men’.  This is due to its abundance of charm.  Whilst the performances of Minogue and company are ear-piercingly over the top, Marsh’s role as Jeff effectively hits home the growing pains of youth.  Jeff anchors the story of love, passion and loss in 70’s suburbia.  This gives much more weight to the script where, even in its’ cringe-worthy moments, draws you back into his plight.

The production designer has a field day in ‘Swinging Safari’ with nearly every 70’s artefact lovingly on display.  For ageing audiences it may become an almost uncomfortable trip back in time with the decade’s ultra-tackiness alarmingly seen. It also provided a tinge of sadness for the days when young adults communicated better and were allowed to make their own risqué fun.  The design does occasionally distract from the often choppy story but the look, music and atmosphere are spot-on.

‘Swinging Safari’ doesn’t always work by skimming the surface of 70’s clichés.  But it’s clearly the best film Elliot has done in years with a strong cast with his directorial focus seen.  Viewers may be alarmed at the indulgences the era brought but it raises a few chuckles which is the aim of any movie embracing the ‘comedy’ tag.

 Movie Review Rating out of 10:  6

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.


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