Review | Kylie Minogue shines in throwback Aussie comedy Swinging Safari

Swinging Safari | Dir: Stephan Elliot | M | ★ ★ ★ 

Director Stephan Elliot made his mark on the landscape of Australian cinema with his iconic film The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert.

His latest offering Swinging Safari is an ode to a bygone era of key parties, kitsch and the kind of broad comedy that is the hallmark of his work.

Swinging Safari captures the events of a brief moment in time where three families implode, dissolve, and evolve. It’s like opening up a time capsule to a time when handing out birth control pills, KFC buckets and killing pets as life lessons, all counted as good parenting.

It stars Guy Pearce, Kylie Minogue, Radha Mitchell, Julian McMahon, Asher Keddie and Jeremy Sims as the parents of the unruly gang of unsupervised teenagers that rule the cul-de-sac.

The performances from this unique ensemble are uniformly excellent as they act their way out of a range of distinctly 70’s series of hair and costume choices provided by Oscar Winner Lizzie Gardiner, who worked with Elliot on Priscilla.

The surprising standout though, has to go to Minogue, who in one of her rare big screen appearances as a catatonic, agoraphobic alcoholic housewife that defies typecasting, delivers the film’s most understated yet comedically satisfying performance.

When a giant blue whale washes up on the shore of sleepy 1970’s suburban Nobby’s Beach it inspires young Geoff Marsh to document on film the goings on of the proto-typical cul-de-sac where he lives.

As each family faces its own dilemmas, Geoff’s coming of age story melds with the back drop of a microcosm drowning in drink and dysfunction. As the teenagers run wild, their parents disintegrate around them, just as the the blue whale bookend rots on the beach.

While Swinging Safari doesn’t quite deliver on its promise as an iconic camp Aussie comedy alongside the likes of Muriel’s Wedding, The Castle, or indeed Priscilla; it’s still fizzing with nostalgia and dead on period details that provide enough laughs to make this trip down memory lane worth the journey.

Swinging Safari hits cinemas Thursday January 18. There is also a special Q&A screening with director Stephan Elliot and star Asher Keddie on Wednesday January 17 at Cinema Paradiso Northbridge at 7pm – grab tickets here!

Clinton Little

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