Lowdown: Estranged father and son come together during a drive across Australia.
Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dandy) and Shane Jacobson (Kenny) are two of Australia’s most famous comedy movie heroes, at least inside Australia. When you join the two of them together, as Charlie & Boots does, you expect big laughs. Well, you don’t get the big laughs, but you do get to tour Australia while witnessing an authentic drama.
Charlie (Hogan) is an old farmer and father of two, including the now divorced Boots (Jacobson) with whom the relationship is rather frosty. The film starts with the funeral of Charlie’s wife and Boots’ mother, which takes much of the reasons for living away from Charlie. A visiting Boots quickly decides to take matters into his own hands, organizing a quick get away from work (that will cost him later) and takes Charlie for a drive to do some fishing. Only that it’s not a simple drive: Boots wants to take Charlie to where Charlie promised to take Boots fishing one day, Australia’s northernmost point – Cape York. Thus the two are in for a long drive, starting off from around Port Fairy in the south side of Australia with some 4,000 kilometers ahead of them.
The rest of the film is your typical long car journey material. Challenges befall our heroes, they meet nice people and not so nice people, they learn more than expected about one another, and we learn more about the circumstances that drove them apart. And yes, in a completely unexpected manner, there is the obvious conciliation between the two.
If the film is as predictable as it is, what is it good for in the first place? Well, take comedy out of the equation because there’s not that much of it; what comedy we do have is a bit on the pathetic side (as in, guess who Charlie “volunteers” to ride a bull when the rodeo asks for volunteers from the crowd?). Besides, let's not be around the bush: Charlie & Boots is a mildly boring film. What we do have on our hands here, though, is a nice story about a relationship between two people that can pass for real.
Ultimately, Charlie & Boots is mostly a postcard from Australia. It’s main event is that act of passing through various Aussie attractions, many of which are not your commonest tourist destinations; this acts as the background for the development of our characters. It’s all done in a rather sloppy way through a script that is as fine as sandpaper is for use as toilet paper, which implies that rather than being a postcard to sell Australia with to the international crowds, Charlie & Boots is more of a pat across the shoulders of Aussies: as in, look at our beautiful country and its people. Ain’t it something? Aren’t we all just the greatest?
Worst scenes: A major part of the not so funny comedy in Charlie & Boots revolves around the very bad food our characters consume throughout their travels. If this film is supposed to sell Australia then the food part of it would be a major turn off. The sad thing is that it’s not an exaggeration: Aussie food is mostly based on Australia’s British heritage, which means it’s boring and tasteless. Luckily, Aussie cities have enough immigrants to offer variety, but once you get out of the big city you might as well switch your taste buds off.
Technical assessment: A below average DVD in both picture and very uninspiring, virtually mono sound.
Overall: Charming yet too flawed to pass, this is a film that will best serve those contemplating long drives in Australia (you know who you are). 2.5 out of 5 stars.