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Australia 1972
Directed by
Bruce Beresford
114 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie

On the surface it is hard to believe that so many talented people including director Beresford, co-writer Barry Humphries (who plays Aunt Edna, the forerunner to Dame Edna Everage amongst other roles), producer Phillip Adams, cinematographer Don McAlpine and so on were involved in such unrelieved low brow, dinki-di humour. Whilst earning critical opprobrium for their trouble they laughed all the way to the bank as the fillum was a huge popular success and is credited as one of the kick-starters for the Australian film industry which had since WW2 virtually disappeared. Although not necessarily making it artistically any better, in hindsight it is a remarkably prescient film, anticipating the gross-out style of comedy of the Farrellys et al by a good quarter century,

The McKenzie character started life as a cartoon, penned by Humphries for Private Eye, the satirical magazine started by Peter Cook, no stranger to gross-out as anyone who has heard his Derek and Clive routines knows (Cook appears in the film as does Spike Milligan). Needless to say, there is a good deal of withering lampooning that gives the film a double-edge as it laughs both with and at its characters.

An undoubted cultural artefact that as a stereotype has been superseded by time, Barry Crocker, better known  in real life as a MOR crooner, makes an excellent Bazza in his portrayal of the part-naive, part-ignorant, beer-swilling, sexist, racist, homophobic bronzed Aussie. The English come in for a merciless beating as Barry is swindled in Earl’s Court, introduced to the prats and perverts of England’s upper classes (Dennis Price lends himself graciously for the purpose) before landing amongst the poofters and lezzos of Notting Hill. It was followed by sequel, Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, that maintained the standard if not improving on it.




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