Australia Day at the Digital Fix continues with Charlie & Boots, a comedy road movie with Paul Hogan and Shane Jacobson.
Charlie (Paul Hogan) is mourning the recent death of his wife. His son Boots (Shane Jacobson), with whom he has not seen eye to eye over the years, persuades him to go on a road trip, all the way up the east coast from Victoria to fulfil a lifelong ambition to fish off Cape York in Queensland, the northernmost tip of Australia.
It’s hard to imagine that Crocodile Dundee was a quarter of a century ago. It made Paul Hogan a worldwide star but he never lived up to it since. Two inferior sequels – not to mention unsuccessful attempts to sustain Hogan’s stardom such as Almost an Angel, Lightning Jack and Flipper – have rather outworn his welcome. 2001’s last-gasp sequel Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles was his last film to date to have a British cinema release. His 2004 film I Now Pronounce You Vince and Ralph (aka Strange Bedfellows, directed by Dean Murphy, went straight to DVD. Charlie & Boots, also directed by Murphy, has yet to see the light of day in the UK, apart from a showing at the Barbican’s Australian Film Festival.
In his home country, Hogan is still a star. When I visited the country in 2010, his troubles with the tax office, which were preventing him leaving the country to go back to his home in the USA, was headline news, rivalling the establishment of a new Australian government. Charlie & Boots pairs him with another name better known at home than abroad, Shane Jacobson, the star of Kenny, a big hit domestically, much less so overseas. They play father and son – we’ll pass over the distinct lack of family likeness, shall we?
Charlie & Boots is a comedy road movie, amiable enough and mildly amusing, if never hilarious. As always with a road movie, it’s less about the destination but more about what happens on the way, and the people met during the journey. As such it falls into a series of episodes, some funnier than others. Morgan Griffin, as Jess, a young hitchhiker musician, gives the film some added spark in the midsection, but she leaves the film too early. Charlie & Boots is a film that presumes on your indulgence and your liking for the two stars. That may be enough for some. For me, it wasn’t terrible but it’s nothing to write home about either. The best joke refers to Hogan’s real-life background, but you’ll have to stay to the very end of the credits for it.
Charlie & Boots features the last role of veteran character actor Reg Evans, who died in the Australian bushfires in February 2009. The film is dedicated to him.
Charlie & Boots is released by Paramount on a dual-layered DVD encoded for Region 4 only.
The DVD transfer is in the ratio of 2.40:1 and is anamorphically enhanced. The transfer is colourful, with natural filmlike grain. It’s not ultra-sharp, though that may well be intentional, given the lines on its nearly-septuagenarian star’s face.
The soundtrack is in Dolby Digital 5.1, though the surrounds are mainly used for the music score and for some ambience. There is more redirected bass in the 2.0 tracks on the webisodes (see below) than there is the feature. The DVD also has an audio-descriptive soundtrack and English hard-of-hearing subtitles are available.
The extras begin with a commentary featuring Hogan, Jacobson and producer Shana Levine. (Dean Murphy is surprisingly absent from the extras, only appearing in some of the webisodes.) Like the film this is an hour and a half of amiable banter without much of import being said about the film or its production. Not unpleasant, but inconsequential.
Next is an item from the Australian Nine Network’s show Sixty Minutes (13:07), which constitutes an extended advertisement for the film and more than borders on the sycophantic. Two other TV items are on this disc, from the Showtime Channel: interviews with Hogan and Jacobson (4:23) and some behind the scenes and red carpet footage (4:59), and these are in much the same vein.
Finally, there are twelve webisodes, which are individually selected from a menu page. There is no Play All option. These are “Paul & Shane – The Dynamic Duo” (2:09), “Locals Explain the Film” (2:25), “Jess’ [sic] Song” (6:31), “Giddy Up” (4:49), “Shane’s Not Happy” (2:06), “Locals from Warrnambool” (2:19), “Paul & Shane – Mucking Around” (2:39), “Reg Evans” (1:27), “The Not Mexican Waiter” (1:14), “Cars” (2:36), “Getting Involved” (2:40) and “Rodeo” (3:31).
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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