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  • Music video - Right On - OMC
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Dating the Enemy

Umbrella Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 100 mins . M15+ . PAL


Surely everybody has reason to do it at least once in his or her life? Women may have wished they were guys in order to be taken seriously as intelligent human beings, or maybe to get paid equally to their male counterparts, or perhaps even to be able to burp or fart in public with complete impunity. Guys, well, umm... maybe they’ve wished they were women simply to have breasty bits on tap to play with, so as not to have to bother with all that difficult dinner/movie/conversation stuff impinging upon their down the pub with the mates boozing time? Either way, Dating the Enemy takes this age-old principle of the “body swap” and gives us a double dose – and luckily without a dodgy looking bloke in a dress in sight!

It all starts in Sydney (we know this, as the obligatory establishing shot of the Harbour Bridge is present and accounted for) on another one of those Valentine’s Days where a bunch of singletons get together for a triv and copious amounts of alcohol night. The rather shy and uncertain Tash (Claudia Karvan), a nerd-girl-supreme science reporter for The Australian is one such singleton, but when Brett (Guy Pearce), the extremely cocksure host of a television music show, rocks up sparks fly. After innumerable meaningful stares, kissy faces and even the fleeting moment of intelligence where they realise they have nothing in common they snog, and then…

Fast forward to their anniversary, exactly one year later (and a date you'd think ANY guy surely couldn't forget). Brett is now a big TV star, with a whopperous ego to go with it. He’s running late for his date with Tash, hurriedly grabs a bunch of roses from his dressing room and rocks up at her flat as if nothing has happened. Still the meek and mild mousy type, Tash accepts his flowers and forgives him – then she sees the note in them from the girls at Polygram. Finally her spine kicks in, as she lets rip at her glorified CD salesman boyfriend, and makes a rather prophetic wish, that Brett could know just what it’s like to be in her shoes. He toddles off home in a huff, she goes to bed in a huff – and that’s it, end of film!

Heehee, had you going for a nanosecond! When the morning comes, they wake to find things are just a tad different to the norm – or in the case of Tash things are more of a tadger different, for she now has a dangly thing between her legs – in fact, she’s inside Brett’s body. Meanwhile Brett has discovered he’s now inhabiting Tash’s body – a realisation that eventually sinks in after dealing with the most important check of all – which way it’s hanging. After a few seconds of “ARGH” in learning it simply ain’t hanging at all, he then does the natural bloke thing – checks what are currently his newly acquired curvy bits out.

Cue the search by the two to explain just what in the dickens is going on, plus all that you’d expect in the way of klutzy dealings with hosiery, undergarments and the like, as well as more gender specific physical events. As the two adjust to having to live each others’ lives they run a gamut of emotions from deciding to have some fun with it all, to severe bitchiness, downright nastiness, career sabotage, self doubt, regret, more nastiness, spite, love etc etc etc, all the time heading down the path of discovering that maybe they’re not complete opposites after all, but rather they complement each other in ways they hadn’t previously realised. Ah, but the question is, will they ever return to their original bods, or will they be stuck in the wrong skin forever? Which is really kind of two questions - oh well. At any rate, this is a romantic comedy, so what do you think happens?

Australian romantic comedies are not a particularly common phenomenon, let alone ones that work. Thus Dating the Enemy, written and directed by the relatively inexperienced Megan Simpson Huberman, is quite the refreshing little joy to behold, managing to avoid becoming too clichéd or campy when it so easily could have gone there for some cheap laughs (or cringes). Naturally most of the credit for the on-screen success should be given to the two leads, both of whom do excellent jobs with their demanding roles without descending into the land of over the top stereotypes. Guy gets to put his previous Priscilla practice to work, while Claudia seems to have a ball butching it up, full of sometimes hilarious macho posturing and taking over the screen as if she owns the thing. And she’s a bloke, so she bloody well does own it, alright? You got a problem with that?


Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear (repeat a few hundred times with appropriate audible clucks and shaking of head). If you’re going to release a film on DVD, for heaven’s sake do it in its correct ratio or simply don’t bother at all. Sadly Dating the Enemy suffers the cruel fate of being squished into full screen like most lesser Australian distributors tend to do with most every release, whereas normally Umbrella and the company they keep have been making great efforts at doing it right of late. Admittedly with little technical information available on the title it’s hard to determine whether it’s open-matte or simply has the sides chopped off, however either way it sure as hell wasn’t virtually square when it appeared on the cinema screen!

Now if it was a jaw-droppingly gorgeous transfer some forgiveness could be bestowed upon them, but sadly the news isn’t great. The most noticeable problem is alarmingly regular outbreaks of wobble-vision. You know how Father Christmas’ jolly old belly wobbles? You know how those funky little Elvis’ you stick on your dashboard wobble? You know how Richard Carleton’s head wobbles? Well combine all three and you should get some sort of idea as to what you’re in for here at various stages throughout the film. It’s like they did the telecine whilst in a suspension-less car hooning full tilt over a rather long stretch of speed-hump infested road. Not good. Not good at all. There are also numerous scratches, speckles and flecks littering the image throughout, as well as more examples of flickering and shimmering than you could poke a page full of big, bold and decidedly red numbers at.

To say something nice, umm, there’s no layer change... and to be honest generally colour is presented well, with solid blacks and reasonable detail considering all the problems that plague the rest of this transfer.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack provided does a decent enough job, and we can’t really ask for more (well, reasonably) when it’s how the film was originally made. Audio is fine throughout with no glitches or other problems, and the dialogue is delivered clearly, as it should be. Even if you pump it through one of those clever Prologic amps you won’t get much more in the way of any oomph, simply as it’s basically a ‘talky’ flick to begin with.

Farnesy’s old mate David Hirschfelder provides a reasonably entertaining and suitable score, which is punctuated by a selection of Polygram soundtrack stuffers including the Cruel Sea, Sidewinder, Grant McLennan, Kiss, Del Amitri, The Platters and those gods from Stourbridge, The Wonder Stuff (in this case with their jaunty Welcome to the Cheap Seats, featuring the gorgeous voice of the tragically not of this world any more Kirsty Maccoll). Oh, there’s also plenty of Christine Anu to go along with her blatant product placement of her boppy little self.


Madman continue to do a wonderful job with their menus, managing to keep them interesting and appropriate to that which they’re presenting – and Dating the Enemy’s simple but effective ones are no exception. They’re backed by the “where on earth are they now?” OMC with their song Right On, which sounds remarkably similar to their only actual hit on our shores, How Bizarre. This song also appears in music video form, which is unusual as the song doesn’t appear in the film – it does, however show up on one of the two near-as-dammit 30 second TV spots, which are labelled ‘romantic’ and ‘comedy’ respectively. Otherwise there are profiles for Claudia and Guy, as well as previews under the guise of ‘More from Umbrella’ (they’ve ditched the word “propaganda”?). In here we get four pages, promoting the Marx Brothers flick A Night in Casablanca, The Norman Gunston Show discs, What’s Up Tiger Lily? (yet again) along with a trailer, and Malcolm, also with a trailer.

Ah, but now for the whines. Not one of these minimal extra features is without fault. The music video is missing a second or two of its beginning, the TV spots have been doctored with a static screen that’s essentially the DVD cover tacked on the end in place of whatever was there originally, the Guy Pearce profile tells us that he “immigrated” from the UK and the page advertising the wonderful little Malcolm has it billed as “Malcom”. Way to make Australia look like a hick-filled, illiterate backwater when you can’t even be bothered spending five SECONDS proofreading a DVD release! Obviously Madman are in need of somebody within their employ who can string two words together properly in English – I’d happily volunteer, however after writing the above I think they’d probably rather fricassee me... or worse.


It may not be a perfect film, but Dating the Enemy really is an engaging and entertaining entry into a genre that is so often overlooked when it comes to filmmaking on these shores, and is well worth checking out if you’re after something light, fluffy and fun that delivers the odd chuckle or three.

Probably only released to cash in on the success of both Pearce and Karvan, sadly this DVD leaves a lot to be desired – with quite dreadful vision at the incorrect ratio that’s about as good as you’d get if you taped this off free to air telly, and what is frankly downright shoddy presentation that makes the whole affair look like it was rushed out at 4:45pm on a Friday. While we may expect such things from some local distributors, Umbrella/Madman/AV Channel aren’t usually this disappointingly slipshod. In the end, the words “caveat emptor” certainly apply to this disc.

Ah, spoken like a true nerd girl – and proud of it!

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1653
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      And I quote...
    "An engaging and entertaining entry into a genre that is so often overlooked when it comes to filmmaking on these shores - you got a problem with that? No, but as for the video and general presentation on this disc I most certainly do..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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