A Few Best Men is a sometimes slapstick, occasionally humorous and often cringe-worthy comedy of nuptial errors from the screenwriter of Death At A Funeral (both the original classic and its redundant remake) and Stephan Elliott, director of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The film bears strong comparison to The Hangover, playing like a second-rate Australian knockoff – the screenplay is riddled with all manner of Aussie stereotypes and clichés. Did the filmmakers really need to include a shot of a surfboard with a shark bite out of it floating by the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House? Can’t we move past such nonsense?
It’s disappointing because it’s all too familiar: there’s the imminent wedding, the character who’s getting married and, of course, the immature mates who somehow manage to ruin everything after a night out of partying and ‘getting wankered’. Even Mike Tyson’s tiger from The Hangover has been replaced by a prize-winning ram called Ramsy (owned by a family whose last name is – *gasp* – Ramme). There’s a sense of déjà vu and it does the film few favours.
Adelaide’s own Xavier Samuel (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) plays David, an English groom who’s anxious to marry his Australian fiancée Mia. The wedding is being held near the Blue Mountains so David travels to Sydney with best mates Tom (Kris Marshall), Graham (Kevin Bishop) and Luke (Tim Draxl) – three stooges – to get ready for the big day. Things quickly go from bad to worse, as Tom and Graham fall afoul of drug dealer Ray (Steve Le Marquand), depressed Luke contemplates suicide and a boulder-like floral arrangement goes all Raiders of the Lost Ark on the guests.
And much like the boulder I couldn’t stop but roll my eyes at many of the film’s jokes, despite the sometimes clever mix of British wit and Aussie humour. The leads are generally good, particularly Samuel who proves he’s capable of being much more than a sparkly vamp. It’s the material that’s a bit of a bust however, as the film is a succession of people walking in on characters at awkward moments while the tone inconsistently switches from crude to pleasant – it comes across as if something was sacrificed in order to reach a wider audience.
For better or worse, A Few Best Men is merely an okay comedy of errors. It might lack originality, be derivative and adhere to archaic stereotyping but it’s not without some merit. Samuel is a genuine talent and makes for a relatable protagonist, and the three ‘best men’ all do a fine job. It just aggravating how contrived certain situations are, and the topsy-turvy tone makes it hard to settle into a rhythm that generates consistent laughs. But hey, it has a ram dressed in drag – that’s got to count for something! Right?!