Stars: Jane Turner, Gina Riley, Glenn Robbins, Rob Sitch, Peter Rowsthorn, Richard E Grant, Jessica De Gouw, Erin Mullally and Magda Szubanski.
Writers: Jane Turner and Gina Riley.
Director: Ted Emery.
Bewilderingly backed by the increasingly hard-to-fathom board at Screen Australia, this shoddy embarrassment is best summed up by Jane Turner’s suburban matriarch Kath Day-Knight when, early on in the film’s interminable 85 minutes, she utters the line, “My worms are gonna love this compost!”
It is a phrase that embodies exactly what is wrong with veteran comedy director Ted Emery’s artless, grotesque big-screen adaptation of Australian television’s least likely comedy icons. Kath and Kimderella is a film made for the fans but which entirely jettisons all that gave the premise a fan base in the first place. There is no consideration given for the satirical skewering of the suburban lifestyle that the faithful followers will like, instead just an urgent thrusting of their favourite characters onto a larger canvas and into a stupid story, as if that will be enough to put bums on seats.
Granted, those bums have materialised, with opening weekend figures solid on the back of a blanket pre-release promotional schedule by stars Turner and co-hort Gina Riley, aka crass horn-bag Kim. But concerns that the adage ‘empty vessels make the most noise’ have come true. Their exploitative, gormless comedy vehicle is a cinema junk, the likes of which the Australian industry occasionally churns out in the time-honoured tradition of making a quick buck (Wog Boy 2; The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course; Les Patterson Saves the World).
It irks to waste time summarizing a plot that Riley and Turner afforded minimal attention in the first place, but here goes. With their respective marriages to the couch-bound Kel (Glenn Robbins) and snivelling Brett (Peter Rowsthorn) in the doldrums, Kath and Kim take their contest winnings and, with long-suffering friend Sharon Strzelecki (Magda Szubanski) along for the ride for no believable reason, jet off to Papilloma, a territory on the heel of Italy governed by orange-skinned, mulletted monarch, King Javier (Rob Sitch). Kath falls for Javier’s smooth charms and Kim agrees to marry the King’s son Juleo (a game Erin Mullally), but there is the sinister page, Alain (Richard E Grant, obviously sticking by the agent who got him gigs in Hudson Hawk and The Spice Girls Movie) and a shadowy but pretty chambermaid, Isabella (Jessica De Gouw), who seem to be conniving in some way. As it plays out, it grows increasingly tiresome, altogether disposable and not at all funny.
The film is littered with best-friend cameos (fellow comedians Mick Molloy, Marg Downey and Mark Trevorrow; iconic suburban treasure Dame Edna Everage), but none bring anything other than “Oh look, it’s...” moments. Riley and Turner over-extend their snotty society dames Prue and Trude for a meaningless subplot that is painfully unfunny; their scenes together are littered with passages of words that rhyme (as is Grant’s dialogue) as if that is inherently hilarious...which it isn’t. The production overplays the LGBT card, with a meagre subplot involving gay discrimination merely an excuse to throw a colourful bash that ties proceedings up on a false high.
At the 11th hour, the splendid talents of Frank Woodley, playing the sign-language interpreter of royal speeches, are used to maximum effect; his brief scene is a hoot. But by the time patrons enjoy their hard-earned smiles, Kath and Kimderella is already in its death throes.
It is a poorly-made film, too; rear-projection and FX work is sub-par, Steven Robinson and Jane Moran’s editing has no comedic rhythm and Penelope Southgate’s sets look cheap. There is a tangible sense that Kath and Kimderella is the last roll of the dice for a property that is well and truly played-out.