I regularly whine about the quality – or lack of it – in Australian movies. Today is the turn of a ham-fisted family comedy.
Caroline Morgan (Robyn Butler) is delighted when her sister, ‘stage mum’ Beth (Portia de Rossi), brings her precocious movie star daughter, Honey (Lucy Fry) home from LA for a visit, complete with an entourage (a personal assistant and stylist). Not so is Caroline and Beth’s younger sister, Katie (Lucy Durack), about whom Beth spoke in derogatory terms in the book she wrote. In short, she called her “fat”. Anyway … when this family gets together, mayhem is just around the corner. But this time is worse.
Out of the blue, Beth is the target of police and the next thing you know, she is in rehab. Caroline, a smart lawyer, suddenly finds herself looking after Honey in her suburban home and this prima donna, like her mother, is not one to slum it in the burbs. Caroline’s ordered life is turned upside down and chaos ensues.
Written and co-produced by the central character Robyn Butler (and directed by her husband, Wayne Hope) the movie tries hard to be funny, much too hard, and the script is patchy. Some parts of it generate laughs and others are not up to it or are just plain tacky. Much of the acting is severely lacking or forced, looking something like of out a bad television sit com. Butler is one exception.
I get that the idea is all about women standing up for themselves and celebrating that they can do and be whoever they want to be. But just why television and radio funny man Hamish Blake’s character, Alex, would want to marry into this family is beyond me. He is the youngest sister’s fiancé (both plays vets), to whom she constantly turns for reassurance and, of course, he frequently suffers from foot-in-mouth disease. I felt he just played himself.
Arguably the best character in the film is played by Angus Sampson as a super sleazy member of the paparazzi. I understand everything has been exaggerated for comedic effect, but my common complaint of no subtlety at all in the vast majority of Australian movies comes into sharp focus here. This relies upon nothing less than a sledgehammer approach to laugh generation and, as often as not, it falls far short of the mark.
More is the pity for underneath it there was probably a half decent movie looking to be made from the story line.
Rated M, Now Add Honey scores a 4 to 4½ out of 10.
Director: Wayne Hope
Cast: Robyn Butler, Lucy Fry, Portia de Rossi, Angus Sampson, Hamish Blake
Release Date: 5 November, 2015
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television