BoyTown: Love Handles
Last night I was lucky enough to be amongst the first audience to see a new Australian comedy called BoyTown. Now, normally, if you were to trick me into sitting down in a theater before uttering the words ‘Australian’ and ‘Comedy’ I’d run screaming from the building, concoct some elaborate torture method and then come back and find you. I’m sorry, but while I think there are some damn funny comedians in this country, they are yet to prove themselves as having the ability to produce amusing television or movies – with a couple of notable exceptions.
Back in the 80’s a comedy team emerged from Melbourne University and produced three seasons of brilliant comedy under the title of The D-Generation, initially for the ABC and one final season for Channel Seven. The team, which eventually grew to include Rob Sitch, Santo Cilauro, Marg Downey, Michael Veitch, Magda Szubanski, John Harrison, Tom Gleisner, Nick Bufalo, Jane Turner, Tony Martin, Mick Molloy and Jason Stephens laid the foundation for some of this country’s greatest comedy productions. It was in 1982 however, after an extremely successful run on Melbourne breakfast radio and having trimmed (IMO) most of the unnecessary fat, that the team’s remaining members Sitch, Gleisner, Martin, Cilauro, Molloy and Stephens (with the addition of two new: Jane Kennedy and Judith Lucy) returned to the ABC and cemented themselves as the defining group of Australian comedy talent of this (d)generation with a show simply titled ‘The Late Show’.
Today Sitch, Gleisner, Cilauro and Kennedy are members of a production company known as ‘Working Dog Productions’, which produced the films The Castle and The Dish along with a string of successful television shows, including Frontline, Funky Squad, A River Somewhere, The Panel, All Aussie Adventures and, currently Thank God You’re Here.
Tony Martian and Mick Molloy have continued to work together and been involved in the production of the films Tackle Happy, Crackerjack, Bad Eggs… and BoyTown.
BoyTown is based on the amusing premise that the original boy band who’s members, now middle aged, are inspired to reform after a cover version of one of their hits reaches the top of the charts. The band mistakenly sets out to touch the same demographic that they originally appealed to, however they quickly realize that their core audience has aged along with them and achieve a renewed stardom with tracks like ‘Picking the kids up from school’ and ‘dish pan hands’.
Glenn Robbins plays Benny G, the band’s leader and cause for their original breakup on the eve of their first scheduled Grammy appearance. Primarily Robbins is the straight man of the film and has very few solo comedic moments, except for an extremely disturbing Apocalypse Now tribute. Tommy Boy (Mick Molloy), Bobby Mac (Bob Franklin), Carl (Wayne Hope) and Corey (Gary Eck) make up the remaining members of BoyTown (population 5) and together they share most of the onscreen laughs. However the star of the movie must be Tommy Boy’s Gran (Lois Ramsey) who’s dry presence gives Molloy the perfect sparring partner.
For mine, BoyTown isn’t the caliber of Crackerjack or Bad Eggs but it certainly dances all over more recent Australian comedy efforts like ‘You and Your Stupid Mate’ and, were it not for Molloy’s trademark colorful language, I’d suggest that this would be fun for the whole family.