It’s an appealing premise: an unpretentious cricket-themed comedy featuring fair dinkum Aussie blokes who travel to India. The results are a mixed bag.
From a conceptual point-of-view it made a lot of sense. A blokey Australian comedy about bumbling good-natured cricket players who travel to India to mingle with the locals, bowl a few wickets, swig marijuana lassis and dance to exotic music. A sort of export-ready fair dinkum mash-up of The Hangover (2009) and Dodgeball (2004), with a splash of Bollywood panache and 30-something “what are we doing with our lives” angst.
Director Boyd Hicklin and screenwriter Brendan Cowell, who also stars as a dope smoking team member of the Abbotsford Anglers, avoid drilling the most loaded comedic premise in Save Your Legs! — that the focus is on the trials and tribulations of wobbly-footed blokes who can’t play their favourite sport very well and, on their supposedly important overseas challenge, spend the lion’s share of their journey getting sidetracked.
To give the film some gravitas, Cowell constructs dramatic friction between his character Rick and team captain Teddy (Stephen Curry), who is reluctant to let his mates’ lives evolve too far from the pitch. Hicklin and his cast work hard to try and make the audience care for these characters, but dramatic moments feel heavy-handed and conspicuous. When an old substitute player collapses on field, the subsequent hospital room scene plays like stodgy daytime TV.
As a comedy that largely operates on a fish-out-of-water travelogue trajectory, predictably embracing that old chestnut about what Indian food can do to a white person’s digestive system, Save Your Legs! struggles. You know something isn’t working when the funniest gag in the movie is the inexplicable sight of a doctor scarfing down a muffin while delivering a prognosis, and the subsequent continuity error that magically restores his snack.
Matched with fist in the air sports movie moments — though, oddly, with no sense of racing-to-the-championship momentum, a progress-to-win plight, etcetera — Save Your Legs! is a strange but not entirely unappealing blend. Tonal inconsistencies and clumsy dramatic moments give the movie a splotchy and unsatisfying aftertaste but it has its moments, with solid production values and scenes that will appeal to cricket fans. When it comes together it comes together modestly well, but nothing can justify a tacky last minute Bollywood dance number gaffer taped onto an already tenuous ending.
Save Your Legs!’s Australian theatrical release date: February 28, 2013.