Dir/scr: Paul Fenech. Australia. 2014. 99mins
Paul Fenech makes Australian gross-out television series. He’s writer, director, producer and star of SBS’s Fat Pizza and Housos, both of which feature a host of outrageous characters from the outer-suburban backblocks of Sydney. Though baffling to some, these broad comedy shows have fiercely loyal viewers who are ready to support transitions to theatrical release. Fat Pizza was No 3 (with $3.1 million) on the 2003 box office chart of Australian-made movies., while Housos vs Authority (2012) opened strongly but settled for $1.14 million.
The fit and physical Fenech has played the lead role in each television series — Pauly in one, Franky in the other — so there are some tricky scenes here where he meets himself.
Here in Fat Pizza Vs Housos, the unstoppable Fenech pits his two large casts against each other in a very loud, very confusing, non-stop running battle, with endless swearing, shouting, lusting and boozing. Though unlikely to attract box office attention abroad — the feature’s lack of an international sales agent is unsurprising — there’s a brazen, swaggering aggression to the movie that marks it as 21st century multi-cultural Australian.
Just don’t expect a plot. The Fat Pizza cast — looking older, it must be said — are reunited when psychopathic pizza chef Bobo (Johnny Boxer) is released from prison. With his fierce mother (Maria Venuti) he rounds up his former Hashfield gang and opens a new pizza parlour in rundown, deadbeat, Sunnyvale, the suburban land of the Housos (Housing Department tenants) led by Shazza (Elle Dawe) and Vanessa (Vanessa Davis), whose nasal vowels and twisted features can simultaneously delight and repel.
The fit and physical Fenech has played the lead role in each television series — Pauly in one, Franky in the other — so there are some tricky scenes here where he meets himself. Entirely unsympathetic, he wears his trademark short shorts, guzzles huge amounts of whisky on the run, gets to pretend sex with several bare-breasted lovelies, and shows deadly accuracy when hurling his ‘thongerang’, two screwed-together thongs (plastic flip flops) that return like a boomerang.
There’s endless rushing about and plenty of clunky Three Stooges sound effects. Most of the minor actors shout throat-shreddingly, and there’s vigorous camerawork and a non-stop soundtrack of metal and heavy rock tracks.
An end caption threatens a further sequel: Fat Pizza and Housos vs Authority. We have been warned.
Production companies: Stolen Productions, Antichocko Productions
Australia/NZ distribution: Transmission Films
Producers: Paul Fenech, Joe Weatherstone
Executive Producers: Serge Lacroix, Paul Fenech
Cinematography: Michael Kliem
Editor: David Rudd
Production designer: Tylah Pratt
Music: Heaven the Axe
Main cast: Paul Fenach, Elle Dawe, Kevin Taumata, Vanessa Davis, Johnny Boxer, Maria Venuti