Pork Pie: Film Review
Cast: Dean O'Gorman, James Rolleston, Ashleigh Cummings, Antonia Prebble, Siobhan Marshall, Mat Whelan
Director: Mark Murphy
An unabashed slice of Kiwi nostalgia writ large some 36 years after the 1981 film become a bona fide hit and cemented itself into the national consciousness, the 2017 version of Goodbye Pork Pie is very much a Top Gear meets Top Town hybrid road trip that's unashamedly feel-good but shallow as it aims for the Kiwiana audience washing over the Waitangi weekend.
O'Gorman is Jon, a broken man who's determined to meet up with Prebble's Susie after a split - spurred into action by an upcoming wedding, he sets out to recapture his love. But that nearly ends fatally, after Rolleston's Luke nearly bowls him in a yellow mini that he's stolen as the film starts. Offering Jon a ride, the pair soon find themselves caught up in a country-wide pursuit when Luke's boy-racing skills come to the fore. And with Ashleigh Cummings' vegan protestor in tow, the gang heads south.
Starting with a chase on-foot before transitioning to a chase in a car with Dave Dobbyn's Language blasting out, the chase movie's ethos comes to the fore, giving the start of the film a breakneck pace that's brisk and adrenaline-fuelled as the pedal to the metal antics kick into gear.
With Rolleston's restrained and hardly talkative Luke sandwiched with O'Gorman's cocksure wise cracking Jon, the Odd Couple vibe is there from the start, as the broader comedy elements set in.
Complete with countryside cutaways that capture the beauty of New Zealand's open roads (at times, it resembles some kind of subtle tourism campaign masquerading as a film) and a soundtrack that's inherently Kiwi, this Bonnie and Clyde road trip wannabe is bound to find an audience who remember the original and want to wallow in the 2017's easy-going nature.
But as the increasing farce grows (the original was compared to the Keystone Kops), some of the broader character elements don't quite gel as they should.
It's mainly due to less rounding and the thinly drawn characters of the trio as well as the occasional side-lining of them as Jon continues his road trip to find love. But it's a shame because Rolleston and Cummings make an endearing and easy couple, destined to be road trip lovers and simultaneously ships passing in the night.
All three of them have an ease of presence on screen and work reasonably well within the script's severely limited confines. After the uproarious opening, the film needs to slow to deliver the exposition and back-ground needed and unfortunately, proceedings hit a minor narrative bump when they do so.
But the action's never too far away as the infamous yellow mini continues to speed, slide and handbrake turn away from the clumsy cops and the confluence of coincidence that's in the story.
It's clear that Pork Pie is an homage to the film that spawned it - from the director being the son of the original man who made it Geoff Murphy, the whole thing is bathed in a love for its story and the faithful updating of it. However, it remains inessential in many ways, with its more shallower edges becoming more evident as the film powers to its end.
It's a shame that the underwritten central characters push Pork Pie into a more average footing and stop it from truly soaring. Because at its core, Pork Pie is about a car chase, a rambunctious road trip of revelling; this 2017 version of Pork Pie doesn't quite have the grunt of an engine to push it over the edge and that, ultimately, is a disappointment.