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Jubilee (2000)

Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 93 mins . M15+ . PAL


New Zealand seems to be a law unto itself and is finally bringing the murky truths of its two main islands to the world via cinema. Films like Perfect Strangers, Savage Honeymoon and Whale Rider are bringing to light a curious slant on varying genres and showing this Land of the Long White Cloud for what it is. And that is an interesting cultural mix out of the roaring torrent of the rest of the world. It’s portrayed mostly as a beautiful and tranquil place and even small budget films of little notoriety like The Lord of the Rings manage to capture that, though the film trilogy isn’t set there.

Jubilee is another film that shows the harmless nature of the average New Zealander in a comic vehicle. Similar to Australian iconic exhibitions like The Castle, Jubilee features a swathe of colourful characters who all speak in that funny way that New Zillanders diu.

Billy Williams is an average guy married with two kids. His teenage daughter is dating a guy he hates, his wife was formerly dating the only All Black the small town they live in, Waimatua, ever spawned and the chairperson of the 75th Jubilee committee just died (under curiously grisly yet comical circumstances). When he speaks up to stop the Jubilee being turned into a straight-laced fiasco, he is voted chairperson and suddenly this regular guy, an affable fella not asking much of life, must figure out how to organise such an event.

"Got the sack for givin’ it to the Fat Lady on Ayer’s Rock…"

Enlisting a string of odd townsfolk and hangers-on, he sets about organising the best Jubilee the town ever had – however, his wife is growing increasingly distant from him as he spends all his free time on the Jubilee and not renovating their house as he promised. Soon she comes to realise she could have had it all by staying with the world class footballer and with him coming back to town for the Jubilee that option is becoming increasingly more promising. Billy will have to perform several miracles to pull off the Jubilee and save his marriage and he’s really not so sure he’s up to the task. But at least the townspeople believe in him.

This is a fairly well-paced comedy and one that keeps the simple laughs coming. Having watched the New Zealand titles above with this film, it seems a lot of New Zealanders like to get around in their underwear and that’s cool. More nations should employ this philosophy and perhaps they’d stop shooting each other. It’s good for a laugh and while there are some moments of a more serious nature, this again seems to strike that curious balance that New Zealand films broach between the extremely serious and the outrageously funny. However, the film hangs more on the funny side of the balance and it works well to its benefit.


This is a pretty shonky transfer in that it’s been given a 4:3 ratio treatment - there are moments we can tell we’re missing out on something happening off screen that we should be seeing, which makes matters worse. That being said, the rest of the film seems to come up okay. Things start with a little bit of film jitter, but after the first couple of minutes it settles itself. Colours are good and flesh tones are true, though at some points the picture quality gets a little bit soft where it should be firm. Shadow detail is not too bad, including the night shots, and there’s no graininess at all while the blacks are true… or All Black if you prefer. A ha ha...


Only a Dolby Digital stereo affair here, but this isn’t too bad. While unbalanced at times between dialogue and music, it does hold some of the most perfectly synched narration to pictures I’ve yet seen. Some of the dialogue stumbles a bit with accents, but this isn’t so bad (although the lack of subtitles doesn’t help any). Music is excellent and scored by Plan 9, who have created a masterful score of topical, funny, jazzy and quirky accompaniment. (Plan 9 were also responsible for the brilliant soundtrack to Perfect Strangers).


Just a trailer that has been treated a little better than the film in 1.78:1 sans enhancement. This goes for a longish 1:48 and is the only extra we get in this fairly budget release.


Jubilee finds itself firmly amidst those numerous and increasing amount of films coming from New Zealand that bring a different take on life to the world. This has some moments of wildly funny humour and a couple of more serious or touching moments, but in all they are a very real collection of parts that contribute to a working whole. And that whole resembles life regardless of where you live.

This film is well worth checking out via rental with a view to buy, although if you’re one of the eight New Zealanders living in Australia, this may just give you a warm fuzzy taste of home.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3953
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      And I quote...
    "Another funny film about the odd characters filling the backwoods of New Zealand…"
    - Jules Faber
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    • Surrounds:
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    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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