Monday, July 25, 2011

New Zealand Gets Funny: Love Birds and My Wedding and Other Secrets

I must admit, I'm never usually a big fan of New Zealand films. Okay, so we do churn out some good ones, the most recent one being Boy, which just so happens to be one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. But other than that, I find most of NZ's efforts pretty 'meh' (fellow New Zealanders, don't shoot me down...). That's probably because I think whenever us Kiwis use our accents to act, we sound terrible. Our voices have terrible inflection, which makes it hard for us to try and get something dramatic across. But we are getting better, especially if you take Shortland Street out of the equation.

Over the past couple of weeks, I checked out a couple of Kiwi flicks which were successes at the cinema and on DVD: Love Birds and My Wedding and Other Secrets. Their common bond? They are both comedies, with a lot of romance in them. Did they get a like from me? Here are my quick reviews:

Love Birds is pretty much your generic Hollywood rom-com, just done in New Zealand. It has prestige by enlisting the help of a pretty good cast. Heading the lot is Rhys Darby, whom you may or may not know. Here in NZ, he is huge, mainly because he has this very funny, and slightly immature sense of humour. When going into this film, many of the people who know his humour will expect his sarcasm and his immaturity to come through, but no dice. Here is a little more mature, definitely trying out a more dramatic side, which will disappoint some misled people. His love interest is played by Sally Hawkins - you know, the gal who is in just about every British movie at the moment - and she is wonderful, like always. The two together? It's odd to watch, but it works. Rhys plays Doug, who has just been dumped by his girlfriend (Faye Smythe who used to be in Shortland Street - her character really ruined it for me), and then happens to find a rare type of duck who can't fly. Compelled to help this poor creature, he decides to make a home for it, but has to seek help from some people who know stuff about birds, which is how he comes to Holly (played by Hawkins). Love comes after that, and Doug has to try and win the girl by also making friends with her children.

The film isn't too bad, but I just didn't really like it all that much. It's okay, but that's all. I didn't really laugh a lot, as many of the one-liners and jokes came with a dose of awkwardity. In fact, much of it was really awkward, especially some of the sub-plots. Doug and Holly's love story, along with the story about the duck were fine. But as I said, Doug's ex-girlfriend really ruined it. While it's perfectly plausible for a jealous ex-girlfriend to come into the equation, but the way she came back into the movie was just straight out annoying. Oh well, no bother. Love Birds wasn't that great at all, and was everything I expected out of a NZ romantic comedy. But I do have to say, the soundtrack that was pretty much all 'Queen' music was pretty awesome.

What I got:

My Wedding and Other Secrets is another romantic comedy, which is pretty predictable, but it's actually a true story. Director Roseanne Liang decided to share her story of how she came to love a European New Zealander, even though she wasn't supposed to. She first made a documentary about it as an assignment for film school, which eventually made it to the New Zealand Film Festival back in 2005. But now, in 2011, she released a feature film about it, with Outrageous Fortune's Michelle Ang playing Emily (based on Roseanne herself) and Go Girls' Matt Whelan playing her husband, James. Emily is an over-achiever born into an Asian family, with parents who refuse to see her marry anyone who is not successful or Asian. But Emily does the opposite and accidentally falls in love with James, who is, well, not that successful or Asian. Emily, already going against her parents wishes by attending film school instead of medical school, decides that she and James should get married in secret and then continue living life without her parents ever finding out. But it's not long before they find out that their daughter is going out with someone who isn't Asian, and now Emily and James have to beg for their blessing.

I don't know whether I liked this film because it was true or whether it was just so twee. Sure, the story has probably been done before, but the way it is done here is exceptionally cool. It's like watching a movie made out of candy is so sweet, but not so sweet you start to feel sick after a while. Our heroine Emily is a pretty cool chick as well (she loves flicks by Spielberg and Lucas, and only really wants to make kick-ass actioners), even though I got a bit annoyed that she was so stubborn, apart from when it came to her romance with James. There are some really funny moments, and it slides into sadness a lot easier than most films of it's kind do. To say I was pleasantly surprised with My Wedding and Other Secrets is a bit of an understatement. I just found it easy to watch and easy to relate to, in some ways. It was a really cute movie.

What I got:

So, what about you have any Kiwi movies you particularly like/dislike?


  1. I liked Love Birds! The problem with NZ films is the industry just doesn't have the funding it needs to produce anything in quantity or quality. Our actors can't get enough experience in front of the camera, script writers can't get enough work, etc.
    The industry is suffering from Peter Jackson's mega success. He is now so big he can dominate the industry and employ all the real talent. We as Kiwi's praise Jackson but in his own way he has been a death knell to our local film industry. I always maintain that Jackson IS NOT NZ's film industry and has had an unfortunate effect on it. Sure his studio brings in millions to NZ but I think we need a local film industry as well.

  2. I didn't hate them, but I didn't like them either. I didn't expect much, and I didn't get much. Rhys Darby just managed to save Love Birds from oblivion, but it still failed, and My Wedding and Other Secrets just seemed like a ripoff of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Sorry if I sound grumpy. I just don't like these movies.

  3. Um...does Zoe Bell's bit in Death Proof count?

  4. Hmm I do enjoy Rhys Darby. I think he is pretty funny in what I have seen him in, although the film doesn't sound great.

    The other sound like a nice film to watch with my missus. We like a twee film.

    Is it as Twee as Nick and Norah or 500 days of summer? if so I am in!

  5. Brent - Peter Jackson has been really good for us, but I agree with you. Mind you, I like to remember the Peter Jackson who made Heavenly Creatures...

    Tyler - :/

    Simon - Sure!

    Custard - Rhys Darby is always great! And My Wedding is twee...but a different sort of twee compared to Nick and Norah and 500 Days.


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


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