Filmmaker, Kevin Smith, hasn’t been secretive about how his latest project, TheTrue North Trilogy, a series of horror/exploitation films set in Canada, ties into his View Askewniverse films that made him such a big name in the indie scene. Indeed, the second part of his trilogy, Yoga Hosers, bears a passing resemblance to his store-based debut, Clerks, albeit with a fantastical Buffy The Vampire Slayer twist.
Colleen M (Harley Quinn Smith) and Colleen C (Lily-Rose Depp) are BFFs and clerks for the Eh-2-Zed store. Having experienced a modicum of fame for their part in the events of Smith’s previous film, Tusk, the two fifteen-year-olds are happy to shirk their responsibilities at the store, whilst superglued to their smart phones. When their shift is interrupted by a battalion of murderous anthropomorphised bratwurst (all played by Kevin Smith), the girls become caught up in the dark history of Canadian Nazism. No, really.
Taking a break from the dark foreboding of his last few films, Smith may have returned to the pop-culture well, but he still shows signs of trying to do something different. In this case, a monster movie aimed squarely at the teen market, with the Colleens tackling growing pains as well as evil meat products. Weaknesses come in the shape of Johnny Depp’s faux-Clouseau, Guy LaPointe, another Tusk alumnus, who may very well be Depp’s interpretation of Mike Myers’ much maligned Fat Bastard. Equally, the film could do without the Colleens’ musical numbers that pepper the first act and threaten to poison any goodwill towards the duo. This is not Smith’s strongest work, but there’s a frivolity to the film that’s completely disarming, and after a rough start of one too many jokes “aboot” how Canadians talk, it’s hard not to be won over by the bubble-gum sweetness of it all, eh?
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.