You can’t get more Australian than a romantic comedy with a walkabout, an Aboriginal wedding, a heaping helping of Oz slang and some serious sight seeing in the wonders of the little-filmed Northern Territory.
Or as they call it Down Under, Australia’s “Top End.” Thus, our story’s title, “Top End Wedding.”
Lauren and Ned live in Adelaide, a couple of attorneys — one newly-promoted, the other a prosecutor who has no heart for the job.
Ned (Gwilym Lee, who played guitarist Brian May in “Bohemian Rhapsody”) proposes on the day he quits, and the day Lauren (Miranda Tapsell of “The Sapphires”) wins over her boss, aka “Cruella de Vil.”
That boss (Kerry Fox) gives Lauren just ten days to do the deed and honeymoon. Lauren has this notion of going “home” to marry, so that’s going to be tricky. Trickier? Ned hasn’t had a chance to tell her he’s quit, and when they get to Darwin, her Dad (Huw Higginson) is morose.
Her Mum has buggered off, and he’s at home, wearing pajamas all day and weeping in the pantry, listening to“If You Leave Me Now” over and over again.
Mum is a Chicago fan. But where did she go?
We’ve seen, in a prologue, the inciting incident of long ago when young Daphne fled her own wedding on the Tiwi Islands. She’s been estranged from her family ever since. Lauren grew up without learning her native language. She can’t make the same mistake. They MUST find Mum.
Daphne’s trail isn’t hard to follow — a trashed resort hotel room (the hotel is shaped like a crocodile) here, a hook-up with a French pilot giving helicopter tours of Kakadu National Park there.
But that hunt isn’t the only strain on the couple. Who’ll plan their wedding with them traipsing hither and yon in Dad’s “ute” (SUV), dipping into stunning canyons and connecting Lauren with her Aboriginal heritage?
In the movie’s most absurd touch, it’s that over-organized/workaholic boss, who isn’t so “Cruella” after all, who is summoned.
It’s as frothy as you expect a movie like this to be, with misty-eyed moments of re-connection with “my people” mixed with a bawdy “hens party” with bridesmaids and bride drinking from penis-shaped straws and eating “budgie” (penis) shaped cake.
Weepy Dad and tactless future son-in-law? They’ve got “Die Hard” and “footie” on the telly.
The running gag with the sappy Cetera-era Chicago song, the “French” pilot who isn’t (French), the campy Tiwi Island taxi driver who, like everybody else there, is “your family” set the tone.
“I’ll see’ya ’round, like a ringworm!”
There’s touching native choral music, and a cute variation of The National Anthem (“Down Under” by Men at Work”) and oh-so-much-Aussie/Aboriginal slang.
“OY! You MOB! Shut yer’holes and get your rings in the car!”
There aren’t many surprises, but the amusing bit players, throw-away lines and general “feels” that “Top End Wedding” leaves you with put it over. There are laughs, sure, but who doesn’t cry at weddings?
MPAA Rating: TV-14, bachelorette party gags
Cast: Miranda Tapsell, Gwilym Lee, Kerry Fox, Huw Higginson, Elaine Crombie , Shari Sebbens, Dalara Williams, Jason Desantis and Ursula Yovich
Credits: Directed by Wayne Blair, script by Miranda Tapsell, Joshua Tyler. A Samuel L. Goldwyn release.
Running time: 1:42