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Whenever another Australian film hits the shelves (or the cinemas, for that matter), you’ll often hear critics and reviewers bemoaning what they see as the sorry state of the Australian film industry. Rightly or wrongly, many of them can’t hide their frustration at the number of films which seem to undo all the good work laid out by the more accomplished Australian works. But can they all aspire to the critical acclaim of a Moulin Rouge (though some would argue that’s not strictly Australian, either) or Lantana? Sometimes it’s best just to sit back and assess each film on its entertainment value rather than its international viability. Which is where Bad Eggs comes in. You know when you’ve got Tony Martin at the helm and Mick Molloy as the headline act there won’t be anything groundbreaking in terms of pushing the envelope. What you should get, however, is a couple of hours of screwball characters, elaborately set up gags and set pieces which will raise more than the odd chuckle. That is if everything goes to plan…

Bad Eggs
Movie
Tony Martin, member of the Late Show and D-Generation teams in the eighties and successful radio host (with Mick Molloy, of course) during the nineties, steps up a notch here to take charge of his first feature film. Not surprisingly it smacks of some of his early work, which will delight the legions of fans waiting for something more after outstanding efforts such as Frontline bit the dust. The writing was taken care of by Martin as well, ensuring all his wit and lunacy made it to the big screen.

The story revolves around two undercover detectives with the Zero Tolerance Unit, Ben Kinnear (Mick Molloy) and Mike Paddock (Bob Franklin). After an elaborate opening sequence featuring blackmail, suicide and a runaway car in all its comedic glory, we come to know the two officers as bumbling morons who seem to attract trouble at every turn. They shoot 11 bullets into a dead magistrate, manage to burn down the house of his widow and crash the funeral to cause a little chaos. With all this negative publicity the pair are bumped down to uniform until everything blows over. But as time goes by they become caught up in a whole web of deceit that goes right to the top.

Kinnear is especially linked to all the drama as his ex-cop, ex-girlfriend, newspaper journalist Julie Bale (another Late Show member Judith Lucy) becomes caught up in the scandal, primarily as a prime suspect in the police enquiries. Some of the best banter happens between Kinnear and Bale, and it becomes apparent that Martin wrote the parts specifically for those two early on. Franklin’s Paddock has some absolute cracker lines and his dry delivery, honed during his days as Jimoein’s sidekick, is spot on for this kind of film.

The plot itself is intentionally flimsy as some crazy scenarios are used to get the film from A to B in a reasonable amount of time. And with the running time relatively short you certainly won’t tire of their antics at any stage. Highlights include a mini heist sequence involving the two cops and mainframe nerd Northey (Alan Brough), the flashbacks two the good ol’ days in Kinnear and Bale’s relationship and

The language is certainly flavoursome even for an Aussie flick, which is surprising given Tony Martin doesn’t seem like the one to splatter the writing with expletives. A sign of nerves, maybe, as some of the profanities would have worked had they been used a little more sparingly. Nevertheless, the environment portrayed here is boosted a little by some fabulous banter, and one could genuinely be in stiches like this reviewer in parts.  

Our interview with Australian actor Vince Colosimo touched on the fact that many Australian films are content to merely become local productions and close themselves off from being relevant to a wider, international audience. Bad Eggs is one such film, not that it’s necessarily a bad thing. For a directorial debut the first thing you need to do is crack it in the local market before you tackle anything that’s meant to make some dollars overseas. To that end, Tony Martin comes up trumps in what is essentially pure fun that doesn’t pretend to be anything else.

Bad Eggs
Video
Roadshow have come through once again with a great looking 1.85:1, 16:9 enhanced transfer that shows off the Melbourne surrounds quite well. The print isn’t the cleanest going around when compared to the newer releases of the same age but on the whole there’s nothing at all distracting in the visuals. Aliasing creeps in only occasionally, the most obvious example being the steps of parliament towards the end of the film, yet the sharpness and the colours are top notch.

The blue-ish hue introduced throughout really adds to the sharp look of the film and is rendered particularly well on this disc, almost better than it looked during its fairly lengthy theatrical run Down Under. Another visual treat from the folks at Roadshow.

Audio
Included on the disc is a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack as well as a plain 2.0 mix for those less equipped. The 5.1 track is great on the ears, with some clever surround use in all the right moments coupled with aggressive subwoofer action during the more action-packed moments. Ambient sounds, effects and dialogue all bounce around the speakers exceptionally well, giving the viewer the feeling there’s a lot more going on than is actually the case.

The music, on the other hand, is a standout also. Mixed by none Dave Graney and his pal Clare Moore, the keyboard-dominated soundtrack is very fitting for this kind of film. Several little ditties make their way into the film and become quite catchy after a while. Others become slightly intrusive at times but only for a couple of scenes here and there. On the whole it’s a very catchy musical mix for a tricky film to score.

Extras
Tony Martin was the man who championed the sensational two-disc set that was The Late Show: Champagne Edition, so it comes as no surprise that he seems to have embraced his first directorial effort on our favourite format. The comments by Martin on the cover about each of the extras are quite funny, so I’ll mention them as we go.

First up is the pair of commentary tracks. The first track (labelled “appalling” on the back cover) is with Tony Martin and eventually Sancia Robinson, second unit director Gary McCaffrie and producer Greg Sitch (Rob’s brother, I’m assuming). It’s a great track as Martin is incredibly relaxed throughout. Not surprising, really, since Martin helmed the commentary track on the Late Show discs. He indulges the audience with some great snippets of information on any subject you can think of. Things such as the requirement for all the cast to appear somewhere in the film (cutting a bit off the wage budget, obviously, as well as a bit of fun), Martin’s impression of the anti-piracy voiceover that adorns most rental videos in Australia, and the legal wrangles with the whole “chika-chow” running gag. Strangely, the audio shifts position around the 16-minute mark to the right and centre speakers but you’ll be so glued to what is being said it won’t really matter. The whole track is a crack-up from start to finish, mixed in with loads of interesting information. I could point out the highlights forever but rest assured not only Late Show fans will lap it up.

Bad Eggs
The cast commentary (”largely incoherent”) consists of Martin (who does make an appearance in an hilarious send up of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire), Mick Molloy, Bob Franklin, Judith Lucy, Pete Smith, Alan Brough, Shaun Micallef and Bill Hunter. The main three cast members and Martin head it up with short appearances by the rest of them. Again, like the Late Show discs the commentary has a few gaps due to legal issues but this is still an incredibly entertaining commentary. There’s some doubling up of info from the other track but there’s enough new pieces of information to keep you interested. It’s a rare occasion where you laugh out loud during a commentary track but they both have the potential to elicit more than a slight chuckle. Brilliant.

Next up is the quite lengthy documentary (”a wank”) entitled Over Easy. Cut using a plethora of footage from John Molloy’s on-location video diary, this 65-minute piece includes a heap of different styles of footage, from interviews on location, press kit material, cuts from the film, behind the scenes footage and gags here and there. Good to see a more urban style of behind the scenes documentary, and it fits this type of film perfectly. This adds to the wealth of information provided in the two commentary tracks quite well. Bob Franklin’s interview especially is an absolute riot.

In a quest for completeness we get the single deleted scene (“hardly worth it, really) which runs for just under thirty seconds and involves more Julie and Ben banter towards the final scenes of the film. Worth a look just to see the one piece that didn’t make the final version. It is mentioned in text that it was a hard decision leaving it out because the reaction to the scene was so strong (in terms of laughter, not violence or anything) during test screenings.

There are also trailers, storyboards and still galleries (”does anyone look at this stuff?”) which are worth a look. The storyboards feature Tony Martin’s hand-drawn pics of some of the action and a gag that they look nothing like the actors they were intended for. The complete score also runs in the background, which is a neat little addition. Three trailers are also included, two of which are accompanied by a commentary from Martin (again). His motivation for its composition is sound and the first trailer is quite effective. The second trailer is merely a “novelty trailer” of a single take where Mike tries to dislodge the club lock from the wheel. The bonus trailer is just bizarre. See it for yourself. Finally, the still galleries

The Dave Graney and Clare Moore interview (”promo for the CD”) pumps up the CD soundtrack and features words from the both of them about their take on the film and its score. Fluffy but a welcome addition nonetheless. The last extra is a bit of a bonus. It’s called The Last Aussie Auteur (”padding”) and harks back to the Late Show days once again. It’s an incredibly funny piece documenting fictitious filmmaker Warren Perso.

The back cover also mentions a few other extras with comments from Martin on the end. There’s scene selection (”Oh don’t try and pass that off as a special feature”), interactive menus (”what other kind are there?”), hidden eggs (”hardly hidden if you’re telling us about them”) and a nice booklet (”stop, just stop”). Someone’s finally taken the mickey out of all those distributors who have padded their extras lists with these “special features”, merely by doing it as well. That rounds out a great collection of extras that are a great laugh and essential viewing for fans of the film.

Bad Eggs
Overall
Tony Martin’s directorial debut is extremely impressive. While it’s a pretty straight forward cop-comedy that’s been done many times before, Martin’s comedic touch coupled with Molloy, Franklin and Lucy’s comedic timing make this a very funny piece. The disc itself is great, with an impressive video transfer, good use of the 5.1 soundtrack and a collection of extras that you just can’t afford to miss out on. No doubt many will be looking forward to Martin’s next film, and many of them will be anticipating another great DVD.


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