Review: ‘Backyard Ashes’ (M) ***

backyard ashesWAGGA Wagga City Council deserves modest commendation for its support for this simple tale of workmates and their families whose weekend entertainment is barbies and cricket in Dougie Walters’ (Andrew S. Gilbert) backyard.

Dougie provides basic infrastructure including a barbie with after-market turbo-charger that will, in time, lead to the unintentional creation of a jar of ashes. And the blokes have developed complex local rules to fit their cricket to the ground’s unique characteristics

A team arrives to sharpen company performance. Their leader Edward Lords (Felix Williamson), a Pom with an Errol Flynn (remember him?) moustache, plummy diction and tickets on himself, plays cricket, as do his minions. And he buys the house next to Dougie’s. His prize cat, more loved than his charming wife, takes to sunning itself on top of Dougie’s barbie. Remember, the turbo-charged one that starts at the touch of a button? When it comes to a grudge match between workers and management, there has to be a trophy, after all.

Writer/director Mark Grentell’s first film is good fun and rather courageous. While the screenplay lacks polish, the cast of professionals and amateur locals do their best with it. I don’t expect they got paid a lot. Unpaid was the yellow tennis ball that plays a pivotal role in the games. Getting a tennis ball to perform in a particular way is not easy.

According to Don Groves in Permalink, “The release plan rules out booking the film into any capital city and the distributor is doing its best to keep it away from critics, perhaps fearing reviews that might raise the spectre of cricket-themed misfire ‘Save Your Legs’!”

I don’t know how the Tuggeranong community feels about that back-handed compliment. Last time I looked, Tuggers was part of Canberra which is still a capital city. And I’m a reviewer, not a critic!

At Limelight


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