After a few years on the bench, small-screen success stories Jane Turner and Gina Riley pull their most popular creations off the bench and put them back in the game. And while it’s terrific to have Kath & Kim back on the field, particularly considering we haven’t seen them in a while, it goes without saying that you’ll be less than impressed with their plays here.
In “Kath & Kimderella”, daggy Melbournians Kath (Turner) and Kim (Riley) find themselves whisked off to quaint Italy – with Kim’s ‘second best’ friend Sharon (Madga Szubanski) in tow, of course – where they catch the eye of a couple of royals. When Kath’s husband Kel (Glenn Robbins) and Kim’s newly ex-husband Brett (Peter Rowsthorn) get wind of the competition, they frantically hop on a plane – arriving just in time for the odd sword-fight and embarrassing dance number.
There’s a few laughs to be had here, but not nearly as many that can be found in those must-buy “Kath & Kim” DVD box sets that you’ll find at your local ABC Shop.
While not the cause of the repellent rumble that derives from the belly after encountering one too many backfiring belly laughs, ”Kath & Kimderella” absolutely isn’t something that’ll leave fans, erm, happily.. ever after. In fact, personally, the result here near left me with puffy eyes.
While much more amusing than seeing Selma Blair’s muffin-top emerge from an undersized tee (Blair, of course, played the ‘Kim’ role in the atrocious U.S Version of the sitcom), director Ted Emery’s attempt to transplant the wonderful eccentricities and adorable wackiness of mother-daughter duo Kath and Kim (Turner and Riley are also the creators and writers of the cash-cow) to the big screen hasn’t been properly realized, resulting in a lukewarm dish that remembers the daggy clothing, and in this case, pretty back-drops, but neglects the jokes.
The main mistake writers Turner and Riley have made here is falling for the old ‘bigger is better’ ploy, in turn causing the duo to concentrate mainly on making the production more of a spectacle than a simple, pleasant chuckle. By taking the daggy Aussies out of suburban Melbourne and transplanting them in Italy, the usually-savvy comedy duo have eliminated the beaut and admirable Aussieness of the TV hit and its characters, not to mention their surroundings (which comes from the surroundings and just the mundane day-to-day exploits of the family).
What’s also worked for ”Kath & Kim” in the past is the fact that so many Australians can relate to these characters – this might be a parent, a relative, a friend, or even the lady up the road. One thing’s for sure, there’s not one Aussie who hasn’t met a Kath, Kim, Brett or Kel in their lifetime. For better or worse, they’re characters they play disturbingly real.
Not so much in the film though – nope, Kath and Kim are transformed essentially into impassive cartoons here. With Kath’s sudden magical powers, and Kim’s ridiculously unbelievable ability to make royals drool, and let’s not forget Kel’s sword-fighting abilities in a swashbuckling compete with the film’s villain, this would seemingly befit ‘Alvin & The Chipmunks Down Under’ more so than the great small-screen offering we’ve been watching for the past decade or so.
My disappointment is seething through, but I should also point out that I wasn’t bored and I did appreciate quite a few moments and, in particular, the wonderful supporting cast put together.
In between the ‘look at me’-style videography of Italy, that pads a fair slab of the movie, there’s Richard E.Grant, playing the film’s most interesting (and fully-realized) character, proves a master-act in his amusing turn, while Rob Sitch – who doesn’t get in-front of the camera nearly enough these days – reminds us why he’s one of Australia’s most popular and successful comedy players, bringing life and zest to the rascal royal.
And you’re without heartbeat if you don’t find Glenn Robbins’ Kel doing a nudie power-walk off an airplane just a little bit amusing.
Sequel, then? Maybe second time’s the charm?