Boardroom and dressing-room intrigues spill on to the field at the Australian Rules football club.Boardroom and dressing-room intrigues spill on to the field at the Australian Rules football club.Boardroom and dressing-room intrigues spill on to the field at the Australian Rules football club.
In spite of it being almost 20 years old it doesn't feel in anyway dated, except for the fashion & hair styles of course. But what we have is basically a struggling Aussie Rules football team, Collingwood (a real team by the way, filmed on location at their stadium), coping with boardroom power struggles & player mutinies while the under achieving coach tries to get the team to the championship finals by the end of the season.
Okay, so this kind of scenario has been done to death by a great many Hollywood movies but there's something rather special with this Aussie gem. The mixture of comedy & drama is just right, preventing the film from either drifting to one extreme (excessive political dogma) or to the other extreme of sheer lampoon & farce.
The much under-rated Jack Thompson plays Laurie, the coach of the Collingwood team, greatly admired by his players but despised by certain members of the board for his lack of team discipline & dearth of any trophies.
Thompson's true nemesis is Frank Wilson, as Jock. An old time footballer & coach, but is now part of the board with a host of trophies to his name. Yet gets bouts of jealousy as soon as anyone tries to usurp his achievements, and that's why he's got it in for Thomspon.
Jock also has it in for the Chairman of the club, Ted (Graham Kennedy), who although loves the club and has seen every single game since he was a kid, has little or no political experience with Collingwood and only got his position through clever negotiation. In essence his true job is nothing more than an owner of a meat pie factory.
If Jock can somehow create a scandal against Ted so that Ted has to resign, then he'll be able to become the new Chairman and complete his ambition with the club and sack those who he dislikes rightly or wrongly.
Snuggling alongside Jock is Gerry (Alan Cassell) as the club's chief administrator, who is cunning & spends most of his time playing off both Ted's & Laurie's weaknesses so that he can gain from a position of strength.
And that's just the conflict in the boardroom! There's still the problems on the pitch with the players going on strike every five minutes or the club's most expensive purchase spending all his time smoking dope and convincing himself he's too good for an average team like Collingwood.
All the main actors excel in their parts; there's no driftwood here. Bruce Beresford keeps everything nicely focused without having to complicate matters with too many sub-plots or excessive bouts of boardroom politics.
Although the ending is perhaps a little too predictable and even if you're not fully versed on the rules of Australian Rules Football, don't worry, just take it easy and watch the fun & froth.
- Aug 20, 2000