You'll be disarmed by its charm.

Reviewed by Sandra Hall
Sydney Morning Herald

Directed by Yahoo Serious
Rated PG
Cinemas everywhere

"It's a vibrant bit of black comedy guaranteed to send a pleasurable frisson through the inner child of all ages."

This long-awaited comedy from Australian funnyman Yahoo Serious - about an accident prone innocent-at-large called Roger Crumpkin - begins with a Roald Dahl-like flashback to our hero's miserable childhood.

The Crumpkins are a rough lot - a family of spare-parts dealers - whose idea of a good time is to gut a motor engine in the kitchen while waiting for their tea. But angelic little Roger is different, preferring to sit in a corner drawing a pretty picture of the family he would like the Crumpkins to be. His mother is not amused by this behaviour. Nor is his father who comes in from work wearing a liberal coating of axle grease and bawls Roger out for the sin of using his imagination. "We're parts people," he bellows. "We take things apart!" It's a vibrant bit of black comedy guaranteed to send a pleasurable frisson through the inner child of all ages.

I also read it as a sly dig at critics - especially those who ripped into Yahoo Serious's last film, Reckless Kelly. I admit to being one of them, but - staying with the spare parts metaphor - was disarmed by Mr Accident, liking it better than Young Einstein, the film which hoisted Yahoo into the big-time 12 years ago by becoming an international box-office hit.

One of the refreshing things about it is that it settles down in one place. Everything is concentrated on Sydney's Quayside, where the Opera House sails have been transformed by the magic of computer graphics into a cluster of giant eggs, suggesting a monumental fertility symbol - a bit of iconography that would have really electrified I950S Sydney had Utzon thought of it first.

Its meaning here is more practical than mythic. Beneath the shells is the headquarters of the egg-packing factory where Roger has a job. He's a maintenance man, which is not exactly ideal work for a Crumpkin - even one as well-meaning as he is. For sadly, the lessons pounded into him as a lad have had their effect, and he's grown up to become like the rest of his family, a person who takes things apart without being able to put them back together again. The upside, of course, is that his ensuing misadventures with plumbing and electricity give Yahoo the perfect excuse for the sight gags which are his specialty.

Sustaining the Dahl touch is the versatile David Field as the villain - a snappily dressed tough guy with a bark big enough to silence even the hyper-active Jack Russell who threatens to upstage everybody. I also liked Helen Dallimore, who brings a radiant touch of both Monroe at her most innocent and Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday to the role of the romantic lead. And if there's a sequel, I hope we see more of Jeanette Cronin, who manages to pack an entire back story into the pair of outsize britches she wears as Dallimore's flatmate, an eccentric policewoman.

Finally, it looks great. Steve Arnold's cinematography shows Sydney on one of those crisp, light-filled days when the buildings seem to float in a bowl of air. At the same time it suggests we're not in the real world at all but have strayed into the ebullient fantasyland of an old-fashioned Aussie comic strip.


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