Joe West takes offence at a film that no one made him watch.
In 2008 I went to see the Adam Sandler film You Don’t Mess with the Zohan and I nearly got up and left the cinema at several points. If you’ve not seen it, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to call it one of the worst films ever made.
But I didn’t walk out of YDMWTZ. I sat and I watched until the credits rolled. I have of course stopped watching many films in media res when they’re on the TV, but that doesn’t count. The sound-proofed sarcophagus of a screening room is sacred and to breach it with an early exit seems improper at best, and at worst is the equivalent of kicking your way out of your mother’s womb before full term has been reached.
But my resolve was almost broken by A Few Best Men, a comedy film that, like a friend request from an old schoolteacher you always suspected was a paedophile, deserves to be ignored.
“But what’s the problem, Joe?” you cry, flinging your arms and eyes skyward while shaking your head at my cynicism. To which my response would be “Fucking everything.”
A Few Best Men is about British orphan David, played by Australian Xavier Samuel with an accent that distractingly veers from cockney to clipped toff. He falls for and proposes to Australian fem Mia (Laura Brent) after they meet while travelling the world. The hasty wedding of these two near-strangers takes place at Mia’s home in Oz, with her senator father and oppressed mother both presented as potentially daunting obstacles to their happiness.
All of the film’s attempted comedy is derived from David’s trio of friends who’ve travelled over from the UK to act as his best men.
First up there’s Tom, played by lanky advert-MILF-botherer Kris Marshall. His role is that of smooth-operating dickhead and he’s given a couple of lines about vaginal flatulence and lesbianism that are delivered with such apparent distaste that they don’t even tiptoe into the arena of wit. Instead it’s like having paid to listen to a builder rant from a scaffold.
Next up is Graham, played by Channel 4-botherer Kevin Bishop. Graham sports a Hitler moustache for a bit, but then he shaves it. He’s also not very good at speeches. That’s about it.
Finally we have Luke (Tim Draxl), who spends the film being mopey about his ex-girlfriend. Like Tom, he’s given a couple of tasks that are supposed to be funny, but end up feeling a little mean-spirited.
The acting feels rotten, but it’s usually just the fault of a script that leaves the stars with nothing to work with. There are no real jokes, just lots of fucking swearing, and the central focus on sheep-based farce that’s made much of in the trailers is, as you might imagine, something that an eight year old would enjoy. It makes The Hangover Part II look as carefully constructed as In The Loop.
But as is the case with many films of this calibre, the worst thing about A Few Best Men is that it has been made at all. For anyone who has ever poured their heart into writing something meaningful, the idea that someone secured studio approval, funding and the director of Pricilla, Queen of the Desert for a film like this is heartbreaking. I would rather that they had made a movie about that meerkat from the car insurance ads than spent any money on this. Which in actuality they kind of have.