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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Photo gallery
  • 3 Music video
  • Behind the scenes footage

The Wannabes

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 92 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

If you have clicked on this review hoping to see strips torn from The Wannabes, and/or some clever-witted reviewer give a lame film the what for, then you are quite likely to be disappointed. Okay, so this is not the cleverest, funniest or most sophisticated comedy to grace our screens of late, it's not even very original and contains some truly feeble lines and sight gags, but neither is it so bad that it has no redeeming qualities.

Nick Giannopoulos stars as Danny, a failed dancer/singer since a disastrous childhood appearance on an amateur talent show where he was mauled Red Faces style by a less than gracious judge. Can you say Bernard King? As an adult, he runs a shoddy little dance school specialising in aerobic-style classes for senior citizens. His luck changes the day he is hired to direct and produce a children's comedy troupe a la The Wiggles by a gang of dim-witted crims who figure the disguise will get them into the house of the very wealthy Aurora Van Dyke (who bears more than a passing resemblance to our own Queen of Bad Taste, Rose Hancock-Porteus-Something-Or-Other) so they can steal her jewellery.

Of course poor old Danny thinks he is being hired for his artistic ability, but decides that he can't help this little group, until he meets the foxy Kirsty (Isla Fisher). Figuring that love can conquer all, he accepts the job, in the remote hope that he can get closer to Kirsty. Sure his own vanity helps keep him there and, through all the challenges, he maintains the professional position that, "The show must go on."

When one of the troupe is injured, Danny insists that he fill in, thereby helping them fulfil their dreams, and The Wannabes are formed. Their unscripted Three Stooges meets Hi-Five routines win over the kids and the adults alike, but the bumbling antics alert Danny that something is wrong and the penny finally drops that the other three Wannabes are thieves here purely for a heist. He’s not too quick this boy! The robbery is foiled but from little things, big things grow, and The Wannabes quickly become the hottest ticket in town. They are faced with the dilemma of being respectable yet crappy thieves and petty crims, or well-paid and successful children's entertainers and the laughing stock of their underworld mates.

There is really not a lot happening in The Wannabes, and that perhaps is its only saving grace. It doesn’t pretend to be anything more than a no-brainer schoolboy romp with little depth or originality. The film is just one joke stretched out to an hour and a half, with some sight gags and a few amusing lines thrown in to remind you that it is a comedy. There is a high degree of schoolboy humour, predictable gags, low-brow smuttiness and a liberal sprinkling of four-letter words, not to mention an extremely painful, oft-repeated attempt at coining a catchphrase. There are the standard bum jokes, dick jokes, ‘fag’ jokes, men in dresses and a few gags that even the cast of Skithouse would consider beneath them, but there are a few decent laughs as well. It really is a case of trawling through the wreckage to find the good stuff.

The stereotypical and predictable characters are not particularly well written, and therefore not very deep or interesting giving the actors little chance to shine. They are really just vehicles for the gags, although the resemblance to certain persons living is deliberate and mildly amusing. Thankfully Giannopoulos has decided to steer away from any wog jokes, but the Australianness of it all is very evident and occasionally a little too thick. The one big problem The Wannabes suffers from is not really being sure who the audience is. It’s probably too silly and thin for adults, and certainly contains too much language and too many dick jokes to be aimed at kids (although there is a Kid’s Version of the film selectable from the main menu).

As far as Australian comedies go, this one is not going to be remembered as anything too special. In fact, it’s fair to suggest that most punters will struggle to find anything very amusing within, but those who enjoy very lightweight comedies that require no brain power will almost certainly get a few laughs. The Wannabes is the kind of DVD that will probably do good business in the rental shops.

  Video
Contract

At least this half-arsed comedy gets a decent treatment, but in 2003 it’s what we have come to expect. The film is a 16:9 enhanced 1.85:1 aspect ratio effort, and will please all but the fussiest of viewers who probably won’t be watching this anyway. Being a film about a children’s group, there is plenty of colour and movement and it all looks clean, bright and shiny. There are no problems with grain, dirt, or other marks, and little to no aliasing or shimmer.

Black levels are good, and as there are few scenes filmed in shadow, shadow detail is largely irrelevant. There are no problems with noise or the like.

  Audio
Contract

All good to report here. The Dolby Digital 5.1 has everything where it should be. Dialogue is placed in the centre speaker and is loud, clear and in synch. There is some separation and panning across the front speakers, while the subwoofer gets the odd prompting.

The rear channels are used mostly for ambience, but occasionally pipe in with some sound effects such as gunshots and things breaking. It is all quite natural and fun and not overdone.

The accompanying music does the job it is designed to do and is neither memorable nor intrusive. Like the video transfer, everything is pretty much where it should be and is all good.

  Extras
Contract

There is little here of any great value, but any extra is a blessing I guess. There are three music videos for want of a better term. There are two from The Wannabes performing Smelly Socks and The Christmas Song that are both short and featured in the movie, and I Wanna Wake Up With You by David Franj which is a real video clip in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 but is not all that good.

The two and a half minute theatrical trailer does the film no justice. The 28-shot poster and photo gallery is likewise standard stuff that few will rush to access. The "Making Of" Special is hosted by the annoying Angela Bishop and is in anamorphically enhanced widescreen mode and runs for about 21 minutes. It features input from the star himself, various cast and crew and includes a short history of the man and the film.

There are some Wannabes Storyboards (for selected scenes) that are no different to any other storyboards you've ever seen, but they will surely be of interest to someone, somewhere, I guess.

You can, if you choose, watch the Kids Version that has the coarse language deleted. Not every word mind, just the really naughty ones. like fu...

  Overall  
Contract

The Wannabes is a patchy affair that does offer a few laughs along the way, but quite a number of groans and moans as well. The cast does what it can to lift the film out of the sludge, and at times they almost succeed, but it’s hard to work with material that is flimsy to start with. Not the best film this year, but as a no-brainer, predictable, schoolboy-flavoured "comedy" it just about succeeds.


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      And I quote...
    "The Wiggles meet The Three Stooges in this pretty lame Aussie comedy that will have limited appeal..."
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Akai
    • TV:
          TEAC CT-F803 80cm Super Flat Screen
    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
    • Speakers:
          Wellings
    • Centre Speaker:
          Wellings
    • Surrounds:
          Wellings
    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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