Twenty-nine of Australia’s funny people get together – with five bands and lots of grog – to tell jokes. That’s That’s Not My Dog! in a nutshell. I am talking about the likes of Paul Hogan, Shane Jacobson, Jimeoin, Steve Vizard, Michala Banas, Fiona O’Louglin, Tim Ferguson, Lehmo, Ed Kavalee, Paul Fenech, Marty Fields, Hung Le and Christie Whelan Browne, along with The Black Sorrows, Russell Morris Band, Adam Brand, The Meltdown and Dan Kelly Band.
The movie’s title is from a line by Peter Sellers as Inspector Jacques Clouseau in the The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976). Attempting to avoid assassination, Clouseau checks into a hotel. On his way to his room, he sees a small shaggy dog sitting on the ground and asks the man at the desk: “Does your dog bite?” After the man says “no”, Clouseau stoops to pet the dog, which immediately chomps down on his glove. “I thought you said your dog did not bite,” Clouseau demands. “That is not my dog,” says the hotelier.
That’s Not My Dog! celebrates Australians’ love of telling jokes. Shane Jacobson (playing himself) is throwing a party for his father, who is a decent yarn-spinner in his own right. The invite requires guests to come armed with nothing but the funniest jokes you’ve ever heard. Shane will take care of the rest.
So these industry stalwarts come together in a spirit of one-upmanship relaying tall tales. The best things about That’s Not My Dog! are the production values … and the music. The bands belt out numbers while a copious quantity of liquid amber is on hand to ensure the revelry abounds.
As far as the humour is concerned, let’s just say some of the jokes go down better than others. To be truthful, I didn’t laugh much … in fact far less than I would have liked or expected to. Some of the gags were just too long and others not all that funny. Having said that, the sharp one-liners were the most memorable. That’s not to say there weren’t the occasional nuggets elsewhere too, only that the hit rate was relatively sparse.
The treatment of the comedians isn’t even-handed. I can only presume the filmmakers chose what to include based on their assessment of the jokes. Shane Jacobson’s stories dominate. After all, he’s the one tossing the party. Overall then, while a bit of fun, I was ready for this crew to call final drinks a half hour before stumps were actually drawn.
That’s Not My Dog! is in extremely limited release for a 4-day run from 15 March 2018.
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television