Third Time’s the Harm

Wog Boys Forever is not, as you might occasionally wonder while watching it, an indication of the film’s run time. The “forever” is presumably meant to inject a note of triumph into proceedings – wog boys will never die! But the overwhelming feeling after this third visit with hot car-loving, leather jacket-wearing Steve Karamitsis (Nick Giannopoulos) is that sometimes dead is better.

After the sunny adventure of Wog Boys 2: Kings of Mykonos, Steve has fallen on… well, not so much hard times as just fizzled out. Single once again, he’s now a taxi driver who can’t even win a drag race against his former Chrysler Valiant.

Estranged from his best mate Frank (Vince Colosimo) and with his former life firmly in the rear view mirror, it’s hard to see why evil politician Brianna Beagle-Thorpe (Annabel Marshall-Roth) is setting him up for a fall. Oh right: if she doesn’t, there’s no movie.

There are two ways to look at this. As a movie that you have to pay money to see at a cinema, it’s barely worth your time. Giannopoulos is, uh, not a lively comedic lead. The serious moments don’t exactly soar either. Let’s not even go into Steve’s rekindled relationship with his much younger single mum love interest (Sarah Roberts).

The story wanders around a lot without ever settling on much of anything memorable. Subplots come up but are either immediately cut off (Steve’s secret “son”) or just dropped entirely (Frank’s ball-busting wife). There’s a few nods towards the next generation of migrants (and an awkward “yeah, each new generation gets treated like shit, but eventually they’ll accept you” speech), but for the most part this is a trip down an often inadvertently depressing memory lane.

At one stage the plot hinges on literally everyone tuning into an early evening current affairs show (hosted by Derryn Hinch!). The whole thing feels like a throwback to a time when the only way anyone ever watched an Australian movie was by renting the DVD by accident on a Saturday night.

But as an Australian comedy movie, everything retro becomes a strength. Actually, just existing is a strength by the low low standards of recent Australian comedy movies, which makes this…

“The Best Australian Comedy Movie of 2022 – Australian Tumbleweeds”

(feel free to print that out and slap it across the top of the poster at your local cinema – bonus points for putting it on one of those video screens they display posters on so half the time it’s across the poster for Black Adam or The Woman King)

Fifteen years ago, Australian comedy movies were actually trying to be entertaining and funny. Does Wog Boys Forever succeed at this? Of course not – not even close. But at least they made the effort.

Yes, the story is silly and meandering. But each scene follows on from the previous one rather than just repeating it. The jokes are average at best, but there’s enough of them that the occasional one lands. And the whole thing is a comedy first and foremost, not the now-typical lightweight drama where what little comedy there is gets dumped by the third act.

Acting-wise, Colosimo lifts the film a couple of notches every time he’s on screen. Comedy troupe Sooshi Mango are… well, it’s good to see Giannopoulos giving air time to those following in his footsteps (ok, their stakeout sequence got a laugh).

And director Frank Lotito does a surprisingly good job of putting a nicely varied range of Melbourne locations on show. That’s important in a comedy that’s meant to be an exaggeration of actual lived experiences. Wog Boys Forever often looks like a real movie; you can’t say that about every local comedy film.

Probably because in Australia the phrase “local comedy film” is now the biggest joke around.

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