23 December 2003 | bamptonj
Absurdly politically incorrect, but a gem
Bazza doesn't care much for `shirtlifters' or `pie-eaters', `ratbags' or `poofter liberators,' he disdains `ikey-mo style b***ards' and `abos.' This movie belongs within the Ockerish period of the Australian Cinematic Revival and one likes it despite of or possibly because of its genre defying.
The film starts aboard a 'Frog Air' flight to Paris presumably straight after the events of the first movie, 'THE ADVENTURES OF BARRY McKENZIE' (though the last scene of that movie had announcements by the captain suggesting the plane was far into its journey and already over Eastern Europe and the décor decidingly Qantas), where Transylvanian Nationals (one with an improbable German accent) mistake Aunty Edna for Queen Elizabeth II. After a series of mishaps, they finally succeed in kidnapping her and thus later in England Operation 'Gladioli' is developed to rescue her. The movie involves a few music-hall type numbers and much beer guzzling.
The sequel is more or less the same as its predecessor thought the mood seems more cynical and abusing. There are still acute cultural comparisons which cannot help but attract laughs: when shown Parisian landmarks Bazza simply observes `Why don't they knock 'em down and put in some amenities.like garages, drive-in opera houses and bottle-shops?' Bazza and his piss-pot mates spill Fosters into the Sein, behave most irreverently and consistently deliver culturally-divisive one-line quips, but the charm of the original Bazza (who said `sport' are the end of almost every sentence) seems to have dissipated.
Bazza is a big-L Liberal*, albeit rough-around-the-edges, who is ultimately suspicious of trade-union 'whingers' and student protestor types (his middle name 'MENZIES' after all). He acerbically observes that Australians now have `culture coming out of their arses' and that 'arty-farty' types are getting much favour in his homeland. Bazza represents the fundamental dichotomy of conservative Australian: he prefers `decent church-going people' but despises his brother Kev the `Rev', he revels in seeing strippers and burlesque (as long as the objects are "dagoes" not clean cut Aussie sheilas) but procrastinates committing intimacy, despises government hand-outs but openly takes a free-trip home. Bazza is also the archetypical Australian `pom-basher' who likes to think that there were no convicts on his family's side and that Australia is the best little place in the world, no risk.
For Bazza's arch-nemesis, Humphries has created the most reprehensible character: a Continental Communist Vampire, Count Eric von Plasma (Donald Pleasance in a wonderful and largely forgotten role) who much like General Ripper in Dr. Strangelove is seen by Bazza to be draining the free-world's of its 'vital fluids' (literally). The film features parts by Clive James, Don Spencer and Barry Humphries in four roles. The movie is an improvement, if only technically, over the original but critics of the first won't be enticed back. It has more of a narrative flow than the original which was far more episodic.
The Original Documentary that was included on my DVD copy had beeped out all references to homosexuality in the `Christ and the Orgasm' segment of the movie. I suspect we Australians NEEDED to make and screen these movies if only to erode our prudish and stiff white-collar leanings. Humphries points out that at the time of production Australia still had a de-facto White Australia policy: so the almost cartoon-like characterisation of other races (a group of Indian-Europeans including a snake-charmer and a Turkish carpet salesmen who jump straight into the Unemployment office after being smuggled into England) may psychologically have drawn our unreasonableness to ourselves. For this and other reasons, I was never afraid to laugh at 'HOLDS HIS OWN.
The protagonist of this film yields not the 'bush' romanticism of CROCODILE DUNDEE but a brash two-dimensional Sydneysider with a lot of similes to make and a lot of beer to drink. Criticism is foreshadowed within the movie by a cornered Von Plasma who taunts the Australian Rescue Contingent that they will end up making `B-Grade yokel movies'
* The Liberal Party in Australia is somewhat of a misdominor: it is actually the conservative party. It has been in power in several forms for over 70% of Australia's Federal History.