*** (out of five)
Remarkably remaking his own father’s feature film Goodbye Pork Pie (remarkable for its rarity – who gets to do that?), Matt Murphy honours Geoff Murphy’s 1980 original – a milestone in New Zealand cinema – with loving care, identifying its mass appeal, correctly, not so much as being hysterically funny as being absolutely stuffed full of heart.
As in the original, three misfits travel the length of New Zealand, North to South, in a yellow mini. Jon (Dean O’Gorman) is a self-pitying author desperate to win back his ex-girlfriend; Luke (James Rolleston, Boy from Boy but now a handsome young man) is a small time thief; and Keira (Ashleigh Cummings, an Aussie doing an impeccable Kiwi accent) is a fast-food worker and passionate green activist. The way they’re thrown together is as improbable as everything else in the film, which is simply part of its charm.
There’s barely any tension or conflict; Luke is such an unthreatening “criminal” that cops are more likely to help him than arrest him, and the cops in pursuit are amazingly slow and unorganised anyway (how hard can it be to stop an identified speeding mini travelling NZ, sometimes on the only roads available?) There isn’t much of a love triangle given that Jon’s set on his ex, leaving the obvious pairing up to Luke and Keira; it’s not like anyone’s shooting at anyone (well, not with any serious intent). It’s all just… good fun, really, a rollicking romp, and mindful to include re-stagings of all the original’s most memorable set-pieces (which are seared on the brains of anyone with access to a television in New Zealand since the eighties).
But boy (no pun intended), the heart and charm are plentiful, and by the end you’ll be missing this immensely sweet threesome. About as deep as Smokey and the Bandit, and just as winning.