Any Questions for Ben?

Year: 2012
Production Co: Working Dog
Director: Rob Sitch
Producer: Rob Sitch/Santo Cilauro/Tim Gleisner
Writer: Rob Sitch/Santo Cilauro/Tim Gleisner
Cast: Josh Lawson, Rachael Taylor, Daniel Henshall, Rob Carlton, Traci Mann, Lachy Hulme

Of the turgid Australian comedies that have graced our screens over the last few decades, The Working Dog guys have been the stand-out talent after The Dish and The Castle.

Any Questions For Ben isn't as distinctive as either of those films and it does tread ground already walked by a million American romantic comedies, but comfortably naturalistic performances make it easy to like.

First, you have to ignore the tiresome stereotype of the guy who only has to flash a trademark smirk to have gorgeous women falling at their feet. Ben (Lawson) is such a womaniser, a perpetual manchild who never sticks to anything, can get any chick he wants and lives a dream of swanky product launches, parties and lifestyle as a brand manager.

But when he's invited to speak about his career at his former high school, for the first time he can see how fruitless it all is, particularly compared to the inspiring stories about charity and NGO work in faraway lands given by the luminous Alex (Taylor), a former classmate.

Ben promises Alex they'll catch up, intrigued by what she does to him, but he's too lazy and careless to do so. As he sees her here and there over the next few months, he with his airhead girlfriends and her with her Mr Perfect Olympian boyfriend, he slumps into a depression of soul searching.

None of it's helped by the philosophies of those around him – from his best friend Nick (Henshall) and his happiness in settling down to the boneheaded flatmate with the emotional depth of a water droplet to his machismo-soaked Mediterranean friend Sam (a hilarious Hulme), and Ben not only doesn't know where to turn, he doesn't realise that what he really wants is to be with Alex.

It could have been another tiresome story about a man who refuses to grow up until love finally tames him, but what it lacks in originality it makes up for with easy-going charm and laughs.

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