In the latest Aussie flick to hit the big screen, the stars of the hit TV show 'Kath & Kim' give us a full feature length incarnation of what is essentially a light-hearted jape of the Australian lower classes. All too often, "X, the Movie!" type features become silly, contrived, and collapse under the weight of their own ambition, so would the foxy ladies of Fountain Lakes share the same fate?
My initial reaction is positive. The writers (Gina Riley and Jane Turney themselves, with others) make a faithful transition of their own now beloved characters from the small to the big screen. With that naturally comes the laughs any fan of the series can expect. Gina Riley's "Kim" dominates every scene she's in, mirroring her characters' infamous egocentrism and selfishness, and Jane Turners' helpless doting mother retains sympathy beginning to end.
What's wrong with the film is that after, say, the 45 minute mark, the humour has just completely run out of steam. There are only a few types of gags our writers dare to employ; the word mix-up (any fan of the series ought to remember the famous "I want to be effluent"), the string of rhymes, and then the clash-of-the-classes as the silver yuppie alter-egos Sue and Prue fire a sly insult at Kath or Kim, or both, and it goes whizzing over their heads. In no other characters did I find the 'running out of steam' more of a problem than with Sue and Prue, who in the series are used as a quick 45 second refrain, but in the film are given so much screen time that their shrill voices and feet-don't-touch-the-ground attitudes becomes agony. Our writers so completely run out of ideas for new gags that one rhyming string is used twice (friar with a lyre), just in case, you know, you thought it might be funnier the second time. Magda Szubanski (who recently came out as gay) is forced to milk that situation for all it's worth, and the sudden change to the laws of the universe as Barry Humphries makes an appearance provoked an eye-roll out of me.
To return to the question I asked to begin this review: no. Riley and Turner have found a winning formula for a television series, but in being too faithful to that precise formula, they haven't made a complete, workable film. This would have been much better as a one-hour special, There's a great ham and cheese performance from Richard E. Grant, and for what's wrong with it, it did give me a few belly laughs, but given the talent working on this film, far too few.