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A Man's Gotta Do

2006-10-13 14:22


Eddy's family thinks he works as an honest but smelly fish trawler. But at night he does much fishier things, working as a "standover" man, collecting debts and doing dirty jobs to keep his aspirational wife, Yvonne, in food and decor. His pretty and demanding but insecure daughter Chantelle, whose Russian fianc‚ has disappeared, seems to be having an personal crisis. So Eddy decides to get his new sidekick Dominic to read her diary and tell him what it says...


Discerning lovers of movies and music may just be starting to worry that South Africa is becoming to the overseas entertainment industry what huge landfills in China are to the garbage disposal industry: a place to get rid of your rubbish.

Which is fine when it's digestible, obvious, even amusing rubbish like Scary Movie 4 (and counting). An overpriced excuse to eat popcorn never killed anyone, although the stingy portions of rubberised popcorn at some local cinemas might, , if their service with a sneer doesn't finish you first!

A Man's Gotta Do is landfill material, which is vaguely disappointing to many South Africans, who after being ably wooed by classics like Strictly Ballroom, Muriel's Wedding, and The Castle, have come to think of Aussie as a provider of quirky and cool comedies that warm your heart and can be watched again when they come out on video.

The film has promise as an Aussie Blue Velvet, and pretty solid acting from John Howard as Eddy the fisherman who chops of debtors pinkie fingers on the side. It also offers a few good lines-mostly from John Howard-which are mainly memorable because although they don't sound real or fit well into the scenes, they are just so bizarre that they have a post mortem cool all of their own.

The Aussie sexism at the base of most humour here is, however, too overpowering to bear - it'll take a very "sensitive" viewer to actually buy into most of the yawning banality of the funny bits. Sure, people may actually be that sexist and boring and dumb, but if we wanted to watch ordinary things happen, would we be at the movies in the first place?

Perhaps most painful of all are the scenes in which Rebecca Frith plays her pensive chick-pop songs and sings, charming her sensitive secret lover with her talents. Pray with me that nobody from a record company's A&R see this disaster, or they'll be exporting her new album by the caseload within a month, straight from the playlists to our overflowing bargain bins.

In summary, A Man's Gotta Do is ultimately a mess. It's a too silly gang movie mixed with an overlong white trash sensibility sitcom. And while a lousy sitcom may act as a mild after-work sedative in 20-minute format, it becomes a frustrating waste of time when it goes on for 100 minutes. A Man's Gotta Do is packed with sitcom-friendly characterisation cliches: The tough, fat man who can't get it up; The dumb blonde daughter who's actually not that dumb; The bored overspending housewife who just needs a good shagging; And the brave but nervous sidekick who secretly digs the boss's daughter.

There's a bit of bad language, a bit of violence, some ugly houses. Sadly, despite the film's obsession with sex and virginity loss, there's no decent nude scene included to save the day.

So all YOU gotta do is avoid going to see it - consider it your civil duty. And don't worry, you're not missing anything. You'll live to see it shown on TV in a few years. And that's really where it belongs.

- Jean Barker

It's "The Sopranos" relocated to suburban Australia and crossed with chicky teen movie. All you gotta do is avoid it.

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