A Few Less Men

February 13, 2017

Review, Theatrical 7 Comments

Nice scenery, shame about the script - in this case, less is less.
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A Few Less Men

Travis Johnson
Year: 2017
Rating: MA15+
Director: Mark Lamprell
Cast:

Xavier Samuel, Kris Marshall, Dacre Montgomery, Ryan Corr, Shane Jacobson

Distributor: Studiocanal
Released: March 9, 2017
Running Time: 92 minutes
Worth: $11.00

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

The whole thing feels like a rush job built on a first draft script…

We’re a man down – and a significant number of jokes, too. After their mate Luke is rather unexpectedly killed by a falling rock mere moments after the conclusion of A Few Best Men, surviving bickering BFFs David (Xavier Samuel), Tom (Kris Marshall), and Mike (Dacre Montgomery) are tasked with transporting his body to Perth and then London for the funeral. Unluckily for them (but luckily for the running time), their plane crashes in the outback, forcing the three hapless Brits to trek through the bush, corpse in tow, encountering outback eccentrics along the way. Hilarity allegedly ensues.

The aptest descriptor for A Few Less Men is “lazy”. The whole thing feels like a rush job built on a first draft script foundation and flung out into the world more to meet a presale agreement and a target date than for any other reason, let alone anything so lofty as “art” or even “comedy”. Every joke is the easiest and most obvious, every punchline predictable, every plot twist as heavily telegraphed as a roundhouse punch from a Looney Tunes character.

But is it funny?

Yeah, intermittently – the movie treats jokes as a volume business, and when you throw that many at the wall, some of ’em are gonna stick. The three leads are charismatic enough, and a host of familiar Australian faces crop up to do their thing, with Shane Jacobson’s back block Norman Bates probably coming off best, while Ryan Corr gets paid to practice his Tom Hardy impression (which is pretty good!).

It’s all for no real, concrete end result. The film doesn’t even know how to finish, just kind of stopping at a fairly arbitrary point. The problem is that A Few Less Men isn’t really about anything; the occasional stab at addressing issues like grief, loss, and the changing nature of friendship seem particularly half-hearted, as though being included out of a sense of grudging obligation. The movie just about functions as a tourist ad (the Western Australian locations are quite lovely), but pretty much collapses as a coherent narrative. Still, if you’re feeling exceedingly undemanding, this will kill an hour and a half for you relatively painlessly.

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Comments

  1. mark

    To Travis Johnson (Arrogant critic)
    It’s very easy to belittle the Australian film industry when they only have a very small budget compared to the mind blowing amounts the American industry receive , instead of finding fault with everything ( the lazy way of been a critic) try finding the positive , promote and support . or just stop writing . I saw the first movie and it was not ground breaking or thought provoking it was pure entertainment and funny ,which it was supposed to be .Iv’e seen the 2.30 minute trailer for this movie and yes there are a few recycled jokes in different scenarios ,but that is what sequels do,to keep it familiar, and yes I will be seeing this movie too, it also has the same good qualities as the first one . If you (Travis) are just looking for clever and thought provoking stick to movies like “LION”, which is a very good movie but I believe in balance!

  2. Craig

    I have to agree with Mark above. Having run cinemas for many years now I have seen that half the issue with Australian production and the failing of it are the stinging critical reviews that surface prior to the national release date. I have reeducated my patrons, using them as my critics for which they have more right. They pay for their ticket for starters ! I encourage them to tell me what they thought. Of course there is th eold tired argument that everyone is different but there are many cinema goers that dont have the luxury of $$ to see everything so they rely on reviews. How many of the critical reviewers have made anything for the screen ? Going to see amovie you dont like so you can write a negative review is a waste of your time and ours.

    1. Travis Johnson

      Surely if the opinions of critics can’t be trusted because we don’t pay for movies, then in a similar vein the opinions of exhibitors can’t be trusted because they have a financial stake in the success of movies regardless of their quality. Fair’s fair.

  3. Grant

    Can I just note that a review of 11 out of 20 on this website is hardly a stinging one? That’s 55%, which basically makes A Few Less Men – in the eyes of this particular critic – an average film rather than a poor one.

  4. Leonard

    Mark and Craig your statements are flawed.

    “I have seen the trailer and I believe the movie will be good therefore all critics who have actually seen the movie and hold a different opinion are wrong and do not support local movies.”

    Supporting local cinema is not as simple as just going oh it is Australian I must tell everybody how great it is. Do you get rewarded for lying in your job and turning in knowingly inferior work? Does your boss pat you on the back and say good job with this blatantly half arsed and empty piece of work you just did? Do you get to turn around and say oh hey I didn’t really like this job you gave me so I am just not going to turn it in?

    A critics job is to critique. For better or worse their job is to share their OPINION with other people. Sometimes it is good and sometimes it is bad. Sometimes it is meh. That is why people read more than one review. Infact i’d go so far as to say without critics their is no industry.

    Only writing amazing positive reviews for everything and never expressing a negative opinion would do far more damage to the industry than truthful reviews expressing a wide ranging series of views.

    The shameful and downright insane attacks on critics by Alex Proyas has caused me to go off seeing another of his films and I was quite a fan. I even watched Gods of Egypt despite the reviews. It was bad. Where as the humble and accepting nature of Duncan Jones who disagreed with the critics but accepted hey Warcraft wasn’t for everybody has only endeared him to me. That movie was also bad.

    I guess what i’m trying to say is, you can’t take a shit on a coffee table and expect everybody to herald it as a work of art. No matter how long you strained to push it out.

  5. philip burrows

    Travis is right. I saw the film yesterday and it’s a poor effort. The jokes were lame and the script felt cobbled together with little cohesion. I’m a critic who does the job for love and nothing gives me more of a buzz than a good Australian film. I’m also from WA and I really appreciated the Pinnacles promo in the film – they looked amazing. But, I agree with Travis’ response – you cannot go overboard on the grounds of patriotism and turn a blind eye to poor material. That’s not fair to yourself or your readers. It’s thumbs up for Travis, who’s had the courage to tell it as it is but thumbs down for a poor Australian film. If you want a good one (also filmed in WA but in the timber country of the south-west) see Jasper Jones – it’s got real heart, skilled writing and acting and is one of the best adaptations I’ve seen in years. And, yes, I’ve read the book.

  6. Ryan Dawes

    “Where as the humble and accepting nature of Duncan Jones who disagreed with the critics but accepted hey Warcraft wasn’t for everybody has only endeared him to me. That movie was *also bad*.” (Emphasis mine).

    And therein lies the double edged sword of the critic. For example, the Avengers doesn’t suit my taste because none of the characters mean anything to me. However, Duncan Jones created some really relatable Orcs and had a reasonably entertaining story. I enjoyed Warcraft and I never played Warcraft and I often don’t enjoy popular blockbuster films (eg. Avengers, The Force Awakens) although I find some are enjoyable (eg. Lord of The Rings, TinTin)

    I read a critic to get an opinion. The value of a critic is that if you trust a good critic, you can follow their advice to have a better success rate. You can also use aggregate sites like IMDB to read positive and negative reviews to help gain an insight from multiple critics. That’s how I found Warcraft. I read one particularly intelligent reviewer who talked about the relatability of the Orcs among other comments that resonated with me.

    As for this film? Would I like it? Who knows. It isn’t the style of movie I usually watch (based on the trailer). But, the critic gave me some insight (slapstick, Brit humour, WA icons, feels recycled). That’s not arrogant. You either like movies that are described that way “oh, when _that guy_ says recycled it means it’s not politically correct and it will be really funny” or “yeah, that’s what he said last time and the jokes didn’t make me laugh at all”.

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