Final 2000s comedy round-up: Under the Radar (2004), Charlie & Boots (2009), A Few Best Men (2011)

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This week brings one last look at Australian comedies from the noughties, no doubt to some readers’ reflief and other readers’ chagrin. Previous entries grouped films according to theme – romantic comedies, music-centred comedies, small town comedies, with The Wannabes straddling the former two categories – but this week spotlights the three best films (in my opinion anyway) of the series: a sly little comedic thriller, a road movie dramedy headlined by two iconic Australian comedy stars, and a polished mainstream confection.

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Liquid Bridge (2003)

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Director: Phillip Avalon

Stars: Ryan Kwanten, Simone Kessell, Jeremy Sims

First viewing, via DVD

Most of what I know about surfing I learned from watching Point Break. And given that surfing is maybe only the eleventh most interesting thing about that delightful film, it’s safe to assume I know very little about surfing. But director Phillip Avalon is well versed in the art and sport of surfing. Liquid Bridge is the former professional surfer turned filmmaker’s feature directing debut, though he’d accumulated a solid number of credits as producer, writer and actor over the years. Fittingly, Avalon’s first major project working in all three of those capacities was another surf-centric flick, 1977’s Summer City, co-starring Mel Gibson and John Jarratt.

In Liquid Bridge, protagonist Nick (Ryan Kwanten) works at his father’s garage and dreams of being a professional surfer like his dad (Tony Bonner), whose pro career was cut tragically short by an accident. He joins his recently widowed friend Dane (Jarrod Dean) on the pro circuit, but when Dane dies of an overdose and drugs are found among their possessions, Nick is wrongly accused of smuggling and put on trial.

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Bondi Tsunami (2004)

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Director: Rachael Lucas

Stars: Taki Abe, Kaita Abe, Miki Sasaki, Nobuhisa Ikeda

First viewing, via DVD

Bondi Tsunami is the first of two surf-themed movies being covered in September on Down Under Flix. But the word “movie” doesn’t quite convey the very particular flavour, or the somewhat acquired taste, of Rachael Lucas’s flick. The film’s promotional tagline, “An original music video motion picture experience”, does a much better job.

Chilled slacker Shark (Taki Abe) and animated goofball Yuto (Kaita Abe) are two young Japanese men in Australia who embark on a surfing expedition. On the road they pick up two other Japanese travellers, a young woman named Kimiko (Miki Sasaki) and a hitch-hiking stoner-surfer-philosopher (Nobuhisa Ikeda), who join them on their road trip from Bondi Beach, NSW to Surfer’s Paradise, Queensland. There isn’t much more plot to describe, as Bondi Tsunami isn’t all that concerned with narrative: it’s part music video compilation, part travelogue, with amusing vignettes and enigmatic narration thrown in.

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