Nuts to This

The Nut Farm is an Australian comedy movie, which means you might want to hurry if you want to see it on the big screen. You know, so in a decade or so’s time when the youth start asking questions like “What’s an Australian comedy movie?” and “What’s an Australian comedy?” and “What’s an Australian movie?” you’ll be the life of the party.

Here in 2024, The Nut Farm feels like something that could have been made in 2004. This is not automatically a bad thing. Unlike more recent Australian comedies, which largely don’t exist, this is content with being a comedy. The jokes are silly but there are plenty of them, while everything else comes a very distant second. Which, and we can’t stress this enough, is what you want in a comedy.

Arj Barker isn’t exactly our favourite comedian, but he is a comedian. Putting him in the lead of a comedy? Makes sense because – lets say it again – this is a comedy. And not the kind of “comedy” where the premise is a bit out there so the marketing team are hedging their bets. Jokes require someone comfortable around jokes to make them work. Barker is by no means a great actor, but a great actor wouldn’t be seen dead in this.

Barker plays a San Francisco crypto bro who inherits a macadamia farm in the middle of nowhere when his uncle (Roy Billing, always welcome) vanishes. He comes out to try and sell it to cover his losses (his latest cryptocoin melts down while he’s spruiking it live on stage), only to be told by his uncle’s lawyer and lover (Tiriel Mora, always a pleasure) that first he has to bring in a nut harvest. Uh oh.

While the rest of the film isn’t entirely nut jokes, don’t worry. There are a lot of nut jokes, including a neighbour (who also has a nut farm) named Dee. We’ll wait. Oh, and Madeleine West plays another nut farmer, so technically this is a romantic comedy. Technically.

There’s also a subplot about an evil fracking scheme involving a lot of underground digging and New Zealand accents. It’s pretty silly, but not so silly that it wrecks the film, which was pretty silly to begin with. Much like the nut harvest, it’s more about quantity than quality here. There aren’t a lot of classic gags, but the overall strike rate gets it over the line.

A big problem with a lot of recent comedies is that they struggle to maintain a consistent tone. Here’s a funny bit, now here’s a dramatic bit. They don’t really go together but hey, that’s modern storytelling for you. The Nut Farm is pretty broad and not exactly highbrow stuff, but across the 90 minutes it holds together because each scene and character and subplot feels like they fit in with everything else. It’s consistent; that’s not something to be laughed at.

Unfortunately there’s also a fair bit here that’s also not to be laughed at. This may not be a shocker like, oh, let’s say the last Wog Boy movie, but it’s no classic either. Here’s the poster quote: it’s a reasonable way to pass the time if you’re in the mood for some local comedy.

Are people still in the mood for local comedy? You’d have to be nuts to think so.

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