The only thing certain about this Australian comedy by writer/director Michael Ralph is that it isn't funny. A mire of genres, Ralph's biggest ask is that an underground street mining operation for opals in suburbia is inspired by the legends of King Arthur, with the street being named Orkney. Regrettably the camelot that is found appears to be racial tolerance and the "richness of friendship".
The screenplay presents characters who indulge in Australian grotesque, including an Elvis impersonator, a "rotting" eccentric as the Merlin figure who instigates the mining, a tall Scandinavian, a pair of Indians (who speak in strangulated English), a mute European, a deposed Russian prince, and thieves who hide their stolen money in a neighbour's backyard, none of whom have any respect for the boundaries of the new home of Max Franklin (Jason Donovan). Ralph continually repeats lines about "dreams", though the payoff comes from a seemingly abandoned sub-plot concerning Max's children's watching the thieves.
Matters aren't helped by the obvious music score of Sean Timms, which includes endless repetition of the song "Memories are made of this", performed by a Dean Martin sound-alike. The song's only context is one of camp appeal, as the lyrics suggest that the tale has occured in the past which works against the politically correct treatment. For example, when a visiting council worker makes a racist remark, he is set up to be damned. The fact that the Elvis admirer doesn't use real Elvis music also adds to the falseness of the idea and may reveal the budget's copyright limitations.
Ralph tries for cartoon comic effects, with a giant dead rat placed in a pocket so that it can be discovered later, a snail that is crawling over an over-ripe tomato flicked off, subjective camera-work, a masturbation joke, a hand smothering Max's attempt to sleep, and a car that has a BBQ grill in it's engine and a freezer in the boot.
Max provides a sudden narration in the mine, which is dropped just as quickly, so we strain to see who he has been speaking to, and his history of having an alcoholic father and being currently unemployed are meant to explain his perfectly acceptable surliness, given the turmoil around him. The mine idea has come from a backyard swimming pool being dug for him that he didn't even want.
Donovan and Helen Dallimore as his wife Joy (get it?), are given earnest conversations where the camera feels too close to them and the actors seem oppressed, which may explain Donovan's use of a tight-mouthed intonation and his use of "yeah?" at the end of lines. However Dallimore does some nearly redemptive mugging with the Council worker, and she even provide tears in a speech asking for the mine search to be halted.
Ralph doesn't present the mine with any sense of it's size, but he does give us one good image - the mute neighbour standing proudly in front of his garden.
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