Robert Sarkies is a superb kiwi director, as both 'Scarfies' and 'Out Of The Blue' make clear. But, reviews being subjective, personal opinions, it pains me to say, Sarkies' latest offering left me cold. Starring 'Flight Of The Conchords' Brett McKenzie and Hamish Blake of 'Hamish & Andy,' you'd think two little boys would offer laughs a-plenty, but wild shifts in tone, from dimwitted 'bromance' to gory murder, fall flat.
When the hapless Nige (McKenzie), inadvertently runs down a norwegian backpacker, he turns to lifelong pal, Deano (Blake) for help. But Deano's a couple of Mars-bars short of a full snack and holds Nige so close in his boy's-own affections that at times the movie heads the way of a Brokeback Mountain parody. Sadly, it's way too homophobic and way too obvious for that. Whilst it may appeal to the type of beer-chugging, brain-cell-challenged, "heinous bogans" that Brett and Hamish portray, the comedy's far too broad and obvious, and the murder too messy for the two genres to mesh.
The acting's fine, especially from the two leads, who invest their paper-thin caricatures with as much sympathy as they can wring from them. Amongst the supporting cast, Maaka Pohatu shines as Gav - Nige and Deano's Maori mate - but in the end this is a movie about the two mullet-haired male leads, so there's precious little room for anyone else - let alone women, who serve as little more than set-dressing to help establish the late 80s Kiwiana of the setting. New Zealand's south and The Catlins coastline look fine, but Director of Photography Jac Fitzgerald's camera is too often tied to the claustrophobic and dingy atmosphere of a narrative that veers wildly from messy manslaughter to broad laughs at man-love. Rather than being made in the style of an over-the-top Shaun Of The Dead exercise in comic bad taste, Robert Sarkies movie (based on brother Duncan Sarkies' novel), rests too heavily in dreary reality for this to be an exercise in cartoonishly-absurd comedy. When the film does hit a surreal pitch in the final act it's a tone shift too late to save a one-note joke. The guys are dumb and dumber. They take a road-trip and try to cover up a horrible accidental crime along the way. But they forgot to pack a decent script, rounded characters or a definite tone.
Maybe if played straight it could've been great. But if you're gonna go "serious" comedy, you need to commit, (see De Niro and Grodin in 'Midnight Run.') Maybe if played for kicks it could've been slick. But, if you're gonna go fun-but-dumb, then you need to commit to that too, (see Downey Jr. And Galifianakis in 'Due Date.') If you're gonna go both madcap and morose, exploring that tiny domain between comedy and tragedy, well then, you're gonna need a finely-honed script akin to Bruce Robinson's 'Withnail & I', or Woody Allen's 'Annie Hall.' And if you're wanting to say something serious in a silly way? Study Monty Python's 'Life Of Brian,' or Billy Wilder's classic 'Some Like It Hot.' But 'Two Little Boys' wants to have its cake, run it down, chop it up, toss it off a waterfall and eat it - and it just doesn't earn the laughs or audience empathy along the way.
It's a shame to see the undoubted comic talent of the two leads go unexploited, and a director of Sarkies' proven skill miss the mark by such a wide margin, but at the end of the day, 'Two Little Boys' is seriously not funny...
Funnily enough, neither is it serious enough to engage. :(