Monday, January 26, 2015

Australia Day Review: Welcome to Woop Woop (1997)

Today is Australia Day which generally means a BBQ with a bunch of mates, lamingtons, excessive drinking, discovering your inner bogan and most importantly celebrating our wonderfully unique way of life. So far all I've only eaten about half a dozen lamingtons. Usually I watch a few favourite Aussie films but as I watched so many during the tail end of last year I'm not really in the mood. Instead I've decided to review one of our most forgotten titles, Welcome to Woop Woop. Directed by Stephan Elliott of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert fame.

This very odd and outlandish Aussie comedy begins with Teddy (Johnathon Schaech); a smooth talking New York City bird smuggler who escapes to Australia with hopes to replace his flock of native bush cockatoos after a street deal goes awry. While on his journey he encounters a rough, sexually ravenous girl named Angie played by Susie Porter; with whom he embarks on a wild liaison across the Australian outback. Teddy then unexpectedly finds himself in a secluded, dilapidated town. In which the odd and eccentric inhabitants live under a law unto themselves. 

The very mention of Welcome to Woop Woop sends my father into hysterics as it appeals a lot to his sense of humour and it's one of his favourite Aussie films. I agree that it's a very funny movie; I near wore out my copy that I recorded off TV when it first aired on our screens. Although unfortunately it hasn't held up so well to the test of time. The problem is that the film is just too odd for film audiences, myself included. Visually it's a cross between Mad Max 2, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and a Rogers and Hamminstein production; a recurring motif throughout the film in addition to the strange obsession and fondness the towns folk have with the numerous film adaptations. It's a film that exists very much in it's own twisted reality which I find to be somewhat disorienting. On a positive note I love the embodiment of Australian stereotypes, behaviour and attitudes shared amongst the many oddball characters. Most notably the late Rod Taylor as the town's mayor like figure Daddy-O. His performance is in equal measure entertaining and intimidating. He captures the essence of a true Aussie working-class larrikin. You would be hard pressed not to see someone you know within his larger than life personal. Personally I see a mix of my father and late grandfather. Although lost to obscurity Welcome to Woop Woop does deserve some recognition despite it's flaws. The humour is crude, overtly sexual at times but for the most part very much Australian; so you're guaranteed a few good laughs at the very least. If you have the means to get your hands on a copy I recommend doing so. Happy Australia Day!

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