Tackle Happy

Produced, directed by Mick Molloy. A couple of well-endowed blokes manipulate their privates for delighted (mostly female) audiences at venues across Australia in the seriously bizarre "Tackle Happy," which has already won a cult following at niche theatrical outlets Down Under. Whether the rest of the world is ready for Simon Morley, David Friend and their "tackle" is open to question. Enterprising distribs may find the film as well received as it has been on home turf, where it scraped by with the equivalent of a PG rating. Video business could be big in more accepting markets, but the material is too bold for mainstream TV.

Produced, directed by Mick Molloy. A couple of well-endowed blokes manipulate their privates for delighted (mostly female) audiences at venues across Australia in the seriously bizarre “Tackle Happy,” which has already won a cult following at niche theatrical outlets Down Under. Whether the rest of the world is ready for Simon Morley, David Friend and their “tackle” is open to question. Enterprising distribs may find the film as well received as it has been on home turf, where it scraped by with the equivalent of a PG rating. Video business could be big in more accepting markets, but the material is too bold for mainstream TV.

Morley and Friend describe themselves as “puppeteers of the penis,” though what they do is just as often referred to as “dick tricks.” Performing naked, each good-looking young man manipulates his penis and scrotum into a variety of poses: The hamburger is one of the most popular, but there’s also the Loch Ness Monster, the nuclear explosion, the wristwatch, the pelican, the fruit bat, the hot dog and many more. They assure their audiences that no prosthetics are involved, and since there is no sexual activity (and no erections), they are able to perform within the law in most venues, although in a couple of towns on their national tour the licensing police intervene to shut down the performance.

Morley and Friend first find an audience at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, where a critic for the Age newspaper hands them the valuable quote, “Best show of the festival.” From here they’re taken up by a supportive FM radio station, and set out to tour the country in a battered van, accompanied by a road manager and other hangers-on.

For a while, the antics of these two clowns are amusing, but at 75 minutes “Tackle Happy” seriously overstays its welcome. There’s a certain fascination in observing how the lads are accepted in increasingly provincial locations — surprisingly well, in fact. But extensive travelogue footage and behind-the-scenes material are just padding.

It’s also disappointing that little or no attempt is made to explore the background to this rather amazing performance. Do these guys have relationships? Does all this manipulation result in any long-term damage? All we really know about their private lives is that Morley’s mother is not a fan of their act — “The last time she saw my penis was in the bathtub,” he says.

Pic is technically slick, though editing shears could have been more forcefully employed. Climax comes when the “puppeteers” are invited for a second time to the northern seaside city of Cairns, where 1,000 women have joined forces to pay their expenses to entertain at a women’s party of unprecedented size and enthusiasm.

Tackle Happy

(DOCU -- AUSTRALIA)

Production: A Radiant Industries release and production.

Crew: Camera (color), Darren Chow, Steve Curry, Richard Molloy; editor, Wayne Hyett; music, Gareth Skinner; sound, Peter Graham; associate producers, Wayne Hyett, Emma Moss. Reviewed at Valhalla Theater, Glebe , Sydney, June 11, 2000. Running time: 75 MIN.

With: With: Simon Morley, David Friend.

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