Movie Review: Pork Pie - a joyous adventure
Pork Pie (M)
105 mins ★★★½
The main thing to say about this sort-of remake of/throwback to Goodbye Pork Pie is that it's an immensely likeable movie.
Three endearing actors play the three not-annoying main characters, the script provides plenty of laughs and there are some tight chase scenes.
The main thing to remember when comparing it (as people inevitably will) to its predecessor is: Context is Everything. The 1980s Kiwi classic is terrific fun, beloved by its fans and also completely silly. So there is no reason a 2017 update should be anything other – but certainly no reason (or in fact reasonable expectation) that it be Just the Same, either. As nostalgic as we may feel about that time, 1980s-style silly/blokey/sexist wouldn't get off the page nowadays, so it's a good thing director Matt Murphy has taken a more modern route.
*Matt Murphy: Pork Pie director looks back on his life of Pie
* Movie Review: Pork Pie - an update that lacks the original's spice
* Actor James Rolleston back on his feet
* Pork Pie filming comes to Invercargill
* Hello again, Pork Pie
* Pork Pie remake's Invercargill connection
* Local Minis to star in Goodbye Pork Pie remake
The core elements are all here: a trio of strangers wind up taking an impromptu road trip from Auckland to Invercargill in a yellow Mini Cooper, and become embroiled in a series of mishaps on the way. There are car-chases, loyal locals, two-fingers-up to the cops. There is romantic attraction, disillusionment, epiphany. But most importantly, Murphy (that's right! - son of the original's Geoff Murphy, so I think we can presume this was made with his dad's blessing) has updated the classic by writing three central characters who feel believable in this era of social media, middle-age angst and Millennial protestation. And in this regard it works.
Central to any film's success, of course, is that we care about the protagonists at least as much as what happens to them. To that end, Murphy could do no better in his casting of a charismatically shambolic Dean O'Gorman (The Hobbit, The Almighty Johnsons), the can-do-no-wrong James Rolleston and a terrific Ashleigh Cummings, whose pitch-perfect rendition of a plucky Kiwi chick belies no trace of her Australian upbringing. As Keira, the head-strong animal rights activist, Cummings does a superb job of bringing the "token girl" role into the 21st Century and modelling an excellent young woman for today's youth to be impressed by when they enter the cinema to have their own Pork Pie experience.
As you'd hope, the script is chock-full of Kiwi jargon and deadpan nods to Noo Zild culture, with some hilarious supporting players.
In keeping with the original's style, there is the occasional slapstick moment like the characters' meet-cute at a fast-food restaurant's window, and That Classic Line feels shoe-horned in, but the viewer's eye-rolling is tempered by performances which range from solidly endearing to surprisingly affecting.
For me, the car chases are the least interesting aspect of the Pork Pie films, but here these are nicely executed, and the whole film is beautifully shot.
Pork Pie is not a perfect film, but then neither was Goodbye – instead, it's a joyous adventure in which three diverse characters learn life lessons and teach their audience not to judge so much. It's is likely to be more satisfying for a new audience to discover than us old-timers to revisit, but as a refreshing reboot, it couldn't have been any other way.