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Strange Bedfellows
cast: Paul Hogan, Michael Caton, Pete Postlethwaite, Glynn Nicholas, and Roy Billing

director: Dean Murphy

97 minutes (15) 2003 widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Mosaic DVD Region 2 retail
[released 21 March]

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Emily Webb
In this 'cute' little Aussie film Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee) plays Vince, owner of the local picture theatre, who is reeling from a tax bill from his ex-wife. In a moment of inspiration, Vince and decides to pull a scam on the back of a bill that allows homosexual couples hefty tax breaks.

He asks his best mate Ralph, played by Michael Caton (The Castle), the town mechanic, to pose as his partner to which Ralph eloquently responds in the Australian way, "I don't want anyone thinking I'm a poof! ... I've got nothing against them personally, good luck to them. But I wouldn't want them near me much less going around saying I was one."

"Not poofs, Ralph, same sex-couples, that's what they're known as," replies Vince, trying to enlighten Ralph. "Nobody will ever find out," Vince assures Ralph. Of course, they do (it's a small town after all) and in a leaking incident with a package of holy water sent to the local priest, the postmistress and owner of the general store, Bonnie, accidentally (on purpose) reads the water-damaged letter from the taxation office informing the 'couple' that an inspector (Pete Postlethwaite) will be sent out to investigate their claim. And of course, the tax inspector's visit coincides with the town's annual fireman's ball, the highlight of the Yackandandah social calendar. You can guess the rest.

This film is quaintly Australian. The depiction of small town life is quite realistic and was a nostalgic trip for me as I was reminded of the way unenlightened Australian males (they are numerous. That's why I didn't marry one) use terms like 'poofters', 'pansies' and 'ponces' to describe homosexuals. The film plays on every gay stereotype imaginable to draw laughs, especially when Vince and Ralph visit a gay club in Sydney for 'research'.

The film is set in Yackandandah, a small Victorian town that I have passed through many times on family holidays when I was a child. I remember stopping off at the local pub for a counter meal and looking around and thinking, 'thank God I don't have to live here'. But this town looks very quaint and inviting on screen and from where I'm sitting in NW London, Yackandandah now looks very inviting...

Paul Hogan's pecs are amazingly good for a man in his early sixties (he bares them on the trip to Sydney) and Pete Postlethwaite is always a pleasure to watch, although I'm stumped as to what attracted him to this project - maybe a holiday down under sealed the deal for him. Strange Bedfellows is no Lantana, Pricilla, Queen Of The Desert or Muriel's Wedding but it is fun and very, very Australian.

DVD extras: A Current Affair special with Paul Hogan, featuring information on Yackandandah (A Current Affair is a top-rating half-hour current affairs programme on Aussie TV), behind-the-scenes and deleted material.

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