Review: ‘Boytown’

Five middle aged guys in various states of physical and emotional disrepair re-form their '80s boyband in the tepid Aussie laffer "BoyTown." Offering too little "Spinal Tap"-style satire, this musical reunion blands out into a soft and fuzzy riff on the "let's put on a show" formula.

Five middle aged guys in various states of physical and emotional disrepair re-form their ’80s boyband in the tepid Aussie laffer “BoyTown.” Offering too little “Spinal Tap”-style satire, this musical reunion blands out into a soft and fuzzy riff on the “let’s put on a show” formula. Ensemble of popular TV performers and stand-up comics should help “BoyTown” to modest B.O. Down Under, but this isn’t likely to dent the charts abroad. Pic opens locally Oct. 19.

Twenty years after topping the charts with “the world’s first boyband,” BoyTown leader Benny G (Glenn Robbins) teaches Melbourne school kids dance, but really likes to stare at his gold records and dream of reuniting the vocal quintet.

Supported by his loyal ex-Britpop princess wife Holly (Sally Phillips) and their teenage daughter Katie (Sarah Walker), Benny approaches closet gay construction worker Carl (Wayne Hope), academic Bobby Mac (Bob Franklin) and country radio announcer Corey (Gary Eck), about getting back together. Straining credibility, the ex-members quickly agree to drop everything for a second shot at stardom.

Temporary holdout is Tommy Boy (Mick Molloy), a lazybones who has a grievance dating back to Benny’s departure for a solo career. His weak protest and rapid capitulation is representative of script’s preference for swift plot advancement unhindered by any genuine conflict. Unfortunately, this severely hampers the comic impact and strived-for emotional resonance inherent in the spectacle of grown men publicly attempting to reclaim their lost youth.

Nowhere is this more evident than when slippery record company boss Marty Boomstein (Lachy Hulme) disastrously relaunches BoyTown with the same sappy love songs and costumes of yesteryear. Situation is ripe for caustic reactions and bitchy finger pointing, but these well mannered characters are far too polite to produce much more than a smattering of wry smiles.

Second half is a slight improvement, as the band decides to aim for women of their own generation. New stage look of ghastly pastel pullovers and beige trousers does the trick, and before long the boys are singing tracks like “Cellulite Lady” and “Picking the Kids Up From School” to packed houses of screaming fortysomething femmes.

These lyrically clever (from screenwriters Mick and Richard Molloy) and perfectly arranged mock soft-rock tunes are easily the funniest thing about the film.

Capable cast of funsters with solid local track records can’t do much with raw material, and Kevin Carlin’s pedestrian direction reps no advancement on his lackluster 2005 debut “The Extra.” Tech package is telemovie adequate, with some clever work done to blend BoyTown into real ’80s and contemporary rock events Down Under.

Boytown

Australia

Production

A Roadshow Films release (in Australia,New Zealand) of a Film Finance Corp. Australia presentation of a Film Victoria, Network Ten and Molloy Boy production. (International sales: Element Films, Los Angeles.) Produced by Mick Molloy, Greg Sitch. Executive producer, Sitch. Co-producers, John Molloy, Richard Molloy. Directed by Kevin Carlin. Screenplay, Mick Molloy, Richard Molloy.

Crew

Camera (color), Mark Wareham; editor, Angie Higgins; music, Gareth Skinner; original lyrics, Mick Molloy, Richard Molloy; production designer, Penelope Southgate; art director, Jayne Russell; costume designer, Kitty Stuckey; sound (Dolby Digital), Jock Healy; assistant director, Annie Maver; casting, Marianne Jade. Reviewed at Roadshow Screening Room, Sydney, Sept.19, 2006. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Glenn Robbins, Mick Molloy, Bob Franklin, Wayne Hope, Gary Eck, Sally Phillips, Lachy Hulme, Sarah Walker, Lois Ramsey.
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