Strange Bedfellows

Year: 2004
Director: Dean Murphy
Writer: Dean Murphy
Cast: Michael Caton, Paul Hogan, Paula Duncan, Pete Postlethwaite, Glynn Nicholas, Kestie Morassi, Shane Withington
A very middle of the road, mainstream comedy that doesn't stand up to a hint of scrutiny and is to simply be enjoyed and not analysed.

Two mates from small town rural Australia, Ralph (Caton) and Vince (Hogan) have a quiet but good life as a mechanic and movie theatre owner respectively.

When Vince's ex rips him off, leaving him a huge tax bill, he concocts a scheme to apply for same sex tax breaks from the government, reasoning that they'll only have to fill in a form and all will be forgotten.

Ralph reluctantly and fearfully agrees out of loyalty to Vince, horrified that anyone would think he's a poofter.

When they receive notice that a tax inspector is coming to interview them and assess their claim, the nosy post shop owner (Duncan) happens to see it, and the secret is out.

While their mates and the townspeople gossip and idly worry, Vince and Ralph embark on a series of adventures to learn how act gay for their interview. First they blackmail the local fag hairdresser (Nicholas - really straight but pretending to be gay so nobody suspects him as he shags half the girls in town) into 'training' them, then they take an impromptu trip to Sydney to get the right clobber and hang around with real gays.

When they return home on the day of the interview, it's also the day Ralph's daughter comes to stay with them and the day of the big fundraising dance. With so many big events on one day, you know everything's going to go wrong at once and Ralph and Vince will be 'outed'.

Of course, it all ends with an uplifting speech by Ralph on the value of love and friendship, which wins over the scary tax inspector (Postlethwaite), has the town enthralled and impresses their new friends from Sydney, a bunch of leather-clad dance freaks and drag queens who've blown in for the dance unexpectedly.

It's a very corny character arc for Ralph and everyone else involved of them learning to accept gays and that love is love regardless. But it's more an excuse for fish out of water and gay jokes - some more sensitive than others.

It's not high art. There are laughs - none of them particularly unexpected - but it's (ironically) a very straight comedy.

It's actually interesting from a public relations and product placement point of view. Australia Post has been replaced with the fictitious National Post (because of the speeding postal driver, which would have been defamatory to a real organisation), and the Australian Tax office has been replaced with the Australia Tax Authority, who'd no doubt dislike the image of creepy no-nonsense tax inspectors.

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