Director of Easy Virtue and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Stephan Elliott delves into bromance territory with romcom A Few Best Men. David (Xavier Samuel) and Mia (Laura Brent) met on a deserted beach in Tuvalu, and after a whirlwind romance they returned home to their respective families in Australia and England with the news that they’re getting married. Everyone’s a little bit shocked to say the least, but the film concerns itself with the clash of cultures as David and his British mates travel to Australia to stay with Mia’s über-rich family.
The film plays gleefully with Australian stereotypes, and is just as cheeky in the earlier scenes set in London, a place the actors clearly never visited during the shoot. There’s nothing refined about the humour here. The film aims to please the broadest possible audience so there’s nothing that hasn’t been seen before. The problem is that there are just as many jokes that fall flat as ones that amuse.
The main flaw of A Few Best Men is that we never get to spend any time with the couple we’re supposed to be rooting for. We don’t get to see Mia and David’s romance blossom because, before you know it, we’ve reached the wedding and everything’s going wrong for the poor couple. We needed to have a good reason as to why these two people who barely knew each other should get hitched, aside from the fact that they’re both really good looking.
Whilst the script and some of the characterisations leave a lot to be desired, the direction and performance really works. Samuel does a pretty decent English accent, and it’s good to see him actually emote, something he wasn’t really able to do in The Loved Ones (where he was gagged and tortured), Road Train (possessed and bloody) or The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (a murderous vampire). At the very least it’s clear that Samuel has a big career ahead of him. Laura Brent does a great job as Mia but has very little to work with.
As with most comedies, the best roles are the supporting ones, and in this case it’s Kris Marshall who steals the show as one of the titular Best Men, Tom. Despite the fact that he’s clearly too old for the role, his characterisation of a laidback yet witty stoner is the best part of the film. Rebel Wilson, whom some people might remember as the only good thing about the first Ghost Rider movie, gets to shine also, though disappointingly doesn’t get enough screen time.
A Few Best Men simply doesn’t set its sights very high. The forays into gross-out humour feel too familiar and the deliberate cultural cringe factor is too much. If more time had been spent on the romance whilst sacrificing some of the lame humour, the film could have been great.Rating: