A Few Best Men sees Brit David Locking (Xavier Samuel) falling for Australian Mia Ramme whilst on a tropical holiday away from his humdrum life in London. They quickly become engaged and resolve to get married as soon as possible. All very sweet and lovely. Except Mia has never met his friends; level-headed Tom (Kris Marshall), loser Graham (Kevin Bishop) and recently dumped Luke (Tim Draxl), none of whom seem overly enthused with David’s upcoming nuptials. Throw in a stolen sheep, a violent drug dealer and Olivia Newton John’s facelift and you’ve got, record scratch, a night to remember.
You have to feel sorry writer Dean Craig, after the moderately successful B, Death of a Funeral, his script for A Few Best Men was optioned. Then in 2009 his agent suggested he watch the latest R-Rated side splitter, The Hangover. With stark similarities apparent, he was encouraged to revisit his script. Director Stephan Elliot (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) promptly took the script, moved the action to the Blue Mountains and rewrote it to add, as he saw it, a more realistic Australian hue to the proceedings, causing a riff between him and Craig.
It’s important to bring this all up, because if there is one thing that is critically wrong with A Few Best Men, it’s the unshakable feeling that this has been messed with too much. Everyone is trying so hard to convince you that this isn’t a Hangover duplicate, that they’ve lost sight of the real issues.
Whilst there are a number of laughs here, there are too many jokes signposted for your enjoyment. ‘Look! Kevin Bishop has a Hitler moustache and doesn’t like cheese. Look now he’s eating cheese with Hitler mustache!’ and so on. As the audience, even if we do guess what’ going to happen, we should at least be rewarded in some capacity for second guessing the creators by being able to enjoy HOW we get to the predicted punchline. The last thing we want to be able to do mouth along with the script.
There’s also a few characters that are surplus to requirements. Didn’t see Tim Draxl in the trailer? That’s because he does nothing. He doesn’t even have the dignity of being the exposition guy that signposts the jokes for you. With his character left to do nothing, but literally piss up a tree, you wonder what on earth they took out of the script to keep him in. Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids) is equally wasted as the fake lesbian maid of honour vying for Kevin Bishop’s attention.
Where A Few Best Men does gain points is via Kris Marshall. Marshall plays Tom as the street smart, older adopted brother to Samuel and self-appointed leader of the boys. As we shamble from one set piece to the other, he maintains enough cheeky charm to keep you watching. Standing over his friends as they try to resuscitate a sheep that’s OD’d, whilst he smokes a cigarette with a broken hand, you genuinely believe that Kris has probably done a lot worse on your normal Sunday afternoon. Whereas The Hangover‘s Bradley Cooper would probably freak out at the general commotion of dead mutton, Marshall just wants to make sure that it doesn’t get in the way of ruining his best mate’s wedding. Marshall is the charm behind this whole affair, which is not surprising when you consider he was only one that made My Family watchable.
In conclusion, A Few Best Men is not the greatest comedy in the world. It’s not even one of the greatest comedies in Australia (Hello The Castle). However, God loves a trier and when the film isn’t screaming at you like a coked-up Noel Fielding wanting you to find it funny, the natural laughs are worth it.