Outside of the British, there is perhaps no group of people prouder of their sense of humour than the Australians. That’s Not My Dog, from director Dean Murphy (Strange Bedfellows), is a monument to that sense of humour, which attempts to celebrate the ancient art of telling a joke.
The plot sees Shane Jacobson, playing himself, putting on a party for his dad, Ron, inviting all his comedian and musical friends over for a night of beer and BBQ. Shane will furbish them all with alcohol, they just need to bring the laughs. Answering the call to party are the likes of Tim Ferguson, Paul Fenech, Jimeoin and even Paul Hogan.
And that is really all there is to That’s Not My Dog. From one liners about North Korea, to much bluer affair regarding sexual relations with camels, this is all just an excuse to let a bunch of real life mates knock back the grog as they tell a bunch of dirty jokes amidst overt product placement that will make you blush.
Yes, the same kind of cynicism can be thrown at The Trip franchise, which sees Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon swanning off around Europe eating food and doing Michael Caine impressions. The difference with Michael Winterbottom’s films is the connective tissue that holds the impressions together, as Coogan and Brydon play heightened versions of themselves trying to get one over each other whilst trying to deny that they’re fast becoming irrelevant in media circles.
That’s Not My Dog attempts something close to meta in a few scenes between Shane and Ron Jacobson as they potently discuss aging and how quickly time can slip through your fingers. But then it’s quickly back to jokes about gynaecologists and the Irish! It’s perhaps Marty Fields and Stephen Hall’s one upmanship battle that works best as a thread through the film, as the two try to outdo each other with some very funny one liners.
For every joke that doesn’t land, there’s one just peeking around the corner that might do the trick. With its cast of known and established comedians, That’s Not My Dog works well as an off-kilter concert film that wants to make you forget about the world for 90 minutes. You can’t hold that kind of sentiment against it, and that’s what some probably call ‘critic proof’.
However, there’s a niggling thought throughout, considering the people on screen, that this could have been more acerbic, more daring. And to be blunt, with the wealth of filmmaking talent out there in Australia vying for attention, this kind of venture is probably best reserved for television than the cinema.