First-time helmer-scripter Craig Rosenberg has stocked “Hotel de Love” with enough solid laugh lines and feel-good resolutions for a half-dozen romantic comedies. Attractive cast, candy-colored design and ’70s-skewed soundtrack don’t hurt. If word gets out, this Aussie crowd-pleaser could easily be the next “Strictly Ballroom.”
Rosenberg gives the generally farcical tone a poignant edge by framing tale with the voiceover frustrations of Stephen Dunne (“Spider & Rose” star Simon Bossell), a sensitive Melbourne lad who has always lost out in most departments to his hunkier if decidedly dumber fraternal twin, Rick (“Black Robe’s” Aden Young). Flashbacks reveal how adolescent competition turned ugly when the bros fell for a beauteous British student named Melissa (Saffron Burrows, of “Circle of Friends”).
Years later, Steve’s a mopey stockbroker and Rick manages an ultra-tacky hostelry for newlyweds. They’re both on hand when the brainy Melissa returns, this time with a nebbishy fiance (Peter O’Brien).
Rick immediately dumps his current g.f., a fetching fortune teller (Pippa Grandison), and she in turn doles out advice d’amour to inept Stephen, who wants back in the race. Things are only made more complicated by the presence of the boys’ fractious parents (Julia Blake and Ray Barrett); the elderly Dunnes are trying for a second honeymoon but are more likely to send each other to separate hospital beds.
These door-slamming adventures are aggressively, almost frantically, directed , and Rosenberg who has already sold other scripts to Hollywood is obviously casting his net for the widest possible auds. Export version, in fact, has been loudly re-looped, “Trainspotting”-style, for North American ears.
But pic clicks because it remains true to quirky Down Under humor (the hotel boasts theme rooms with names like “Love in the Outback”) while pumping out yocks anyone can relate to. Although there’s no nudity, frank language takes things out of bland “Love Boat” terrain. The only minus is that characters don’t seem to exist beyond their comic complications, although this won’t be noticed amidst the laughter.
Tech credits are deluxe, semi-familiar faces are marketable, and oldies-laden soundtrack is a winner. Pic got a noisy ovation, even before it was over, at Toronto’s world preem.