Dir:Kevin Carlin. Aust. 2004. 90mins
Irish stand-up comedian Jimeoin made waves in his adoptedAustralia during the 1990s, writing and starring in his own self-titledtelevision series. Sweet-natured, with a thick Irish accent and a nice line inbemused wonderment at modern life, his decade was crowned when his small-budgetdebut feature The Craic, though hardly hilarious, opened to strongbusiness and became the top ($7m) home-grown feature at the 1999 Australian boxoffice.
Sixyears later, his follow-up feature has a bigger budget ($7m), an assureddirector in TV veteran Kevin Carlin and the same cheerful inconsequence. Nolonger such a household name, Jimeoin is unlikely to make the same local stiras before - The Extra opened to $0.3m on 144 screens - yet it has plentyof easy energy and delivers some solid laughs. International theatricalprospects are brightest in the UK and especially Ireland, where he has someclub following.
Keen, inexperienced extrashave brought havoc to movie sets before from Mack Sennett silents to CrocodileDundee In LA (2001). Here a gormless, never-named extra (Jimeoin) chaseshis dream of stardom, meeting girls and graduating to the better locationlunches. He works by day dressed in a lemon costume advertising soft drink, bynight he's an incompetent dancer in a gay bar.
Soon he and a bunch ofequally inept extras get involved with shooting a preview for a potentialgangster movie. Though hopeless at everything he tries, our hero dulyfascinates international star Katherine (Hinze) and girl extra Claudia(Slattery).
Confident cinematographyfrom Mark Wareham and wittily bombastic music (Roger Mason) cleverly establishfictitious blockbuster feature The Eternal Flame on which all areworking. But the extras are heavily caricatured, with much gormless banter andgay lisping, and their gangster-funded side project has no comic reality.
Everything depends on theeager, blue-eyed Jimeoin who is hardly off the screen, and there's no doubtingthe charm with which he throws himself into his own unlikely plot.
But without the TV awarenessto back his claims, audiences will find difficulty in accepting him as theageing, featherbrained no-hoper who, in best Jerry Lewis tradition, cansuddenly act, dance up a storm and win the prettiest girl around.
Technical achievements aregood, with convincingly silly Hollywood blockbuster sets and costumes. ProducerLuby's largely successful attempts to set the story in an unspecified countryare undermined by some very Australian broad comedy acting from the supportingcast: not all TV comedians can act, a lesson some Australian film-makers havebeen slow to learn.
The Extra is one of only two features supported by the secondMacquarie Nine Film & Television Fund. The other - a more strident, lessamusing comedy You And Your Stupid Mate (releases locally May 5) - facesan even tougher quest for an audience.
Prod cos: Extra Extra Film Prods
Int'l sales: Lightning Ent
Aus/NZ dist: Hoyts Dist
Exec prods: Jennie Hughes, PosieGraeme-Evans
Prods: Stephen Luby, Mark Ruse,Bruno Charlesworth
Scr: Jimeoin McKeown
Cine: Mark Wareham
Prod des: Carrie Kennedy, BenMorieson
Ed: Annie Higgins
Music: Roger Mason
Main cast: Jimeoin, Rhys Muldoon,Katherine Slattery, Bob Franklin, Helen Dallimore, Kristy Hinze, Colin Lane,Raj Ryan, Shaun Micallef, Tayler Kane