Australian actor-writer-producer-director Murray Fahey is a tenacious creator of ultra-low budget genre pics (thrillers, comedies). Working without any government support, Fahey’s films (“Gat Away, Get Away,” 1993; “Encounters,” 1994; and “Sex Is a Four Letter Word,” 1995) have failed to secure theatrical distribution on their home turf but have occasionally cropped up at festivals, in vidbins and on pay TV. His latest, “Dags,” completed a year ago, is being self-distribbed by Fahey, initially in some of Australia’s smaller cities.
New item is a lowbrow, character-based comedy which, despite conceptual flaws , still packs in quite a few yocks at the expense of the “typical” blue-collar Aussie and his mate — the kind of humor that Bruce Beresford milked in his debut, “The Adventures of Barry Mackenzie” and its sequel.
A “dag” is the filthy wool on the hindquarters of a sheep and, in the Australian vernacular, is also an affectionate term of abuse for an uncouth person. The dozen or so dags on display here are an amiable bunch of suburbanites. The beer-swilling, dope-smoking men tend to wear Hawaiian shirts and long socks and sandals, while the women favor tank tops, hot pants and padded bras, and believe everything they see on “Melrose Place” and “The X-Files.” They tend to want sex more than the men, but they never seem to get much out of it. Heaven, for these dags, is a soft sofa and a big screen TV.
Cheryl (Tanya Bulmer), a self-confessed Kmart girl, is engaged to marry the permanently stoned Daryl (Brian Roberts), but decides she deserves someone better. Meanwhile, Kevin (Daniel Cordeaux) concocts a plan to enter the “Guinness Book of Records” by getting his mate, Trevor (David Callan) to rob his video store every night. On one such occasion, Trevor “kidnaps” Cheryl, who falls for Kevin when he “rescues” her.
While all this is going on, Tina (Sheena Crouch) is secretly having an affair with the desirable Enzo (Sam Makhoul), despite the fact that he’s the boyfriend of her best friend, Charlene (Penny Cooper).
Heavily influenced by the comic bleakness “Clerks” and by the female bitchery of “Muriel’s Wedding,” “Dags” is amiable enough in a scrungy kind of way. A major flaw is the presence of a fake anthropologist, Sir Richard Cranium (Peter Callan), who dumbly addresses the audience as he explores “the uncharted outback of the suburbs” in search of “disgusting but cute” dags.
Ensemble cast has fun impersonating this gallery of oddballs; Fahey himself appears as Miles, a typical member of the group. Production values are appropriately minimal; Visa Card is listed on the credits as executive executive producer.