In the summer of 1975 a 200-ton whale washes up on Nobbys Beach in Australia. The unexpected incident inspires 14-year-old Jeff (Atticus Robb), an aspiring film-maker with a crush on his quiet and introverted friend Melly (Darcey Wilson). While Jeff tries to make his film with the help of his friends, he’s completely unaware that his parents Gale (Asher Keddie) and Bob (Jeremy Sims) are about to embrace the sexual revolution with their friends Keith (Guy Pearce) and Kaye (Kylie Minogue) Hall, and Jo (Radha Mitchell) and Rick (Julian McMahon) Jones, who happen to be the parents of Jeff’s friends.
Swinging Safari flew mostly under the radar over here and I’m not sure it even got a theatrical release. The films boasts a stellar cast and marks a return to acting for popstar Kylie Minogue who reunites with her former Neighbours co-star Guy Pearce. It’s also the latest effort from writer/director Stephan Elliott, who is the man behind the iconic The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
Before watching Swinging Safari, I’d seen very mixed reviews for the film so I went in with low expectations. I’m pleased to say I was very pleasantly surprised and it made me laugh a lot. The humour is distinctly Australian (think Priscilla and Muriel’s Wedding as reference points) and the plot is spectacularly wacky. The film has two plots unfurling simultaneously with the kids coming-of-age being the driving plot while the adults exploring the sexual revolution bubbling along nicely at the same time.
There are laughs to be had with both plots but I have to say the storyline focusing on the adults had me howling with laughter. After spending the day together with their kids, the three married couples decide to play some saucy games while eating fondue, which quickly escalates to a spot of swinging. Some of them are more up for it than others and Kylie’s Kaye, a depressed alcoholic, is hilarious to watch as the situation progresses.
In terms of the kids, the storyline between Jeff and Melly is very sweet and heartwarming. Their innocent romance blossoms nicely as Jeff tries to get Melly out of her shell and pulls her more into his world. While they grow closer some of the other kids get out of control, including Jeff’s sister who gives out blowjobs like free candy. The whale forms the backdrop to the whole film with Melly upset that the whale might have committed suicide and Jeff seeing it as an opportunity to make his first masterpiece.
The performances are brilliant. Kylie doesn’t get a whole lot of lines but her facial expressions are pure gold. Guy Pearce and Radha Mitchell attack their characters with gusto and Julian McMahon plays a variety of his dickish Nip/Tuck character. Asher Keddie and Jeremy Sims are wonderful too, sniping at each other and clashing over their willingness to shag their friends. Atticus Robb and Darcey Wilson are wonderful too as Jeff and Melly. They give nuanced performances way beyond their years and they really make you root for them.
Swinging Safari is a breath of fresh air. The humour is biting, the performances strong and the pace very snappy. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much at a film and I had a smile on my face from start to finish. Ignore any negative reviews you might come across and take a chance on this one, you may find you love it as much as I did.
Cast: Guy Pearce, Kylie Minogue, Radha Mitchell, Julian McMahon, Asher Keddie, Jeremy Sims, Atticus Robb, Darcey Wilson Director: Stephan Elliott Writer: Stephan Elliott Certificate: 15 Duration: 107 mins Released by: Thunderbird Releasing Release date: 13th May 2019 Buy Swinging Safari