Save Your Legs!

Save Your Legs!


Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

In Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited (2007), three brothers, each a manchild at a crossroads in his life, traverse the Subcontinent - strangers in a strange land on a spiritual quest for reconciliation and enlightenment. Strong in character, quirky in insight, and full of narrative curveballs, it is a model of the sort of film that Save Your Legs! might have been.

After all, Boyd Hicklin's cricketing comedy, freely adapted by Brendan Cowell from Hicklin's 2005 documentary of the same name, also follows a group of middle-aged yet boyish outsiders on a tour of India - but instead of hitting this material for six, it gets caught on the sticky wicket of its cross-cultural caricatures, lowbrow non-laughs, uninvolving arcs and go-nowhere themes. It is about as fun to watch as a sub-subpar suburban cricket team – which is in fact exactly what you will be watching.

From the moment, aged 14, he saw Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar play at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Teddy Brown (Stephen Curry) has made the sport his life. Now aged 35, the proud president of D-grade cricket club the Abbotsford Anglers is utterly arrested in his development, still living in the garage of his childhood friend Stavros (Damon Gameau), even if Stav's marriage with children has long since taken his eye off the ball. So Teddy panics at news that team captain Ricky (Cowell), another childhood friend, is about to become a father, get married, and inevitably move on.

In a hare-brained scheme to keep his boys' club together, Teddy tricks local businessman Sanjeet (Darshan Jariwala) into sponsoring the 'A-grade' team on a grand three-match tour of India. There games are lost and won, friendships are lost and found, lessons are learnt, romances are had, and everything culminates in a grating Bollywood-style song-and-dance number.

It could be comedy gold, but the ball is dropped early. For a start, there is too much focus on Ted, a black hole of a character whose all-rounder duties as both protagonist and narrator never manage to engage the attention, while his potentially more interesting teammates are left to sit it on the bench in one-note rôles. Ted's erotic entanglement with Sanjeet's sophisticated daughter Anjali (Pallavi Jerda) is so absurdly implausible from the outset that the filmmakers do not even bother fleshing it out. Indeed, broad strokes and superficiality rule here. One might take offense to see the Indian nation reduced to amiable rusticity, spiritual mumbo jumbo, tummy-troubling tucker and Bollywood bling, but then Australia is a no less touristic collection of stereotypes about sport and mateship.

All this could be forgiven if Save Your Legs! were at all funny – but when the film's comic highpoints are scenes of Ted 'sharting' and jokes about Tendulkar's 'ball box', it becomes clear that this barrel-scraping fiasco has been selected for the London Film Festival in much the same way that the Abbotsford Anglers achieved support for their international tour: on a false promise. Thinking of seeing it? Drawn by that wacky title? A fan of Australian comedy? Honestly, save your cash!

Reviewed on: 28 Sep 2012
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A feeble amateur cricket team blags its way into international competition.

Director: Boyd Hicklin

Writer: Brendan Cowell

Starring: Steve Curry, Brendan Cowell, Damon Gameau, Brenton Thwaites, David Lyons

Year: 2012

Runtime: 91 minutes

Country: Australia, India


London 2012

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