It’s all beaut utes, dud roots and the occasional whiff of true love in this venture into the world of ute musters and B&S balls from co-directors Tim Ferguson (DAAS) and Marc Gracie (You and Your Stupid Mate).
While crack ute-driving team Billy (Xavier Samuel) and Lucy (Morgan Griffin) need to figure out their complicated feelings for each other before she splits for the big smoke out of sheer frustration, a whole universe of oddball characters orbit around them, each wrestling with some kind of issue that comes to crisis at their small country town’s annual Bachelor and Spinsters Ball. There’s perennial best mate Sparrow (Travis Jeffery, a total scene-stealer) struggling to declare his love for acid-tongued goth chick, Scary Mary (Melissa Bergland); championship beer drinker Podge (Dorje Swallow), who is in training for the record but unaware that his pregnant girlfriend (Brooke McClymont) has potentially upsetting news for him; a trio of no-hopers (Mark Nicholson, Brendan Bacon and Thomas Blackburne) whose plans to join the army to turn their lives around fail to impress their long-suffering girlfriends (Lisa Kowalski, Piagrace Moon and Aileen Huynh) and many more.
It’s all in good fun. While a more acerbic take on the boozing, brawling, buggering goings-on at a B&S ball might have been the more obvious route, Spin Out comes not to bury Australian rural culture, but to praise it. This is an incredibly big-hearted story, and one lacking in villains; the closest we get is a pair of city sophisticates, played by Lincoln Lewis and Christie Whelan Browne, who come to town in search of some country lovin’ and set their sights on Lucy and Billy, respectively, but even they’re more narrative obstacles than straight up bad guys.
The nimble script, by Ferguson and Edwina Exton, keeps things ticking over nicely, juggling a vast ensemble of characters and firing off enough jokes-per-minute that whenever one doesn’t land – and, honestly, there are a fair few fizzlers – another is along seconds later to keep you smiling. It’s a deft balancing act: while there’s plenty of beer-fueled mayhem, violent brawling, bodily excretions of every stripe and a healthy, unsentimental attitude to sex, its fundamental attitudes are rooted (heh) in an appreciation of community, fraternity, honesty and ribaldry. The final destination may never be in question, but Spin Out never gets bogged down on the journey.