Movie Review: Pork Pie - a slicker, smoother, but slightly more soulless ride
PORK PIE (M, 105 mins) Directed by Matt Murphy ★★★
Goodbye Pork Pie is a key film in our cinematic history.
It didn't put us on the international stage like other 1980s films (The Quiet Earth) and wasn't even the best comedy of that era (that accolade has to go to Came A Hot Friday). However, it was the first New Zealand movie that proved we could produce a profitable film that locals wanted to see in droves.
It's been described by some as "Easy Rider-meets-Keystone Cops", but in truth this ultimate Kiwi road movie was closer to Smoky and the Bandit-meets-The Blues Brothers, by way of The Dukes of Hazzard.
Made with just around two-dozen cast and crew, it was also the ultimate expression of New Zealand's Blerta collective, whose leading lights included director Geoff Murphy and star Bruno Lawrence.
Thirty-five years on and we have a slicker, smoother but slightly more soulless take on the story made by Murphy's son Matt.
*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
First thing to note, it's not your Dad's Pork Pie. Thankfully gone are the chauvinistic overtones of the original, replaced with something far more metrosexual. But while many of the terrific setpieces (for example the Wellington CBD chase) remain, this Pie lacks bite. There's no real antagonist to rival Marshall Napier's relentless southern cop and while the film boasts an impressive cast – James Rolleston, Dean O'Gorman, Antonia Prebble (plus terrific cameos from the likes of Geraldine Brophy, Josh Thomson and Rima Te Wiata) – there's no one who comes up with a truly memorable character the way the likes of Lawrence could.
It's a film that while trying to entice baby boomers back for a familiar tale is actually made more for the Pineapple Express than the Pineapple Lump generation. An extended drug scene seems Seth Rogen-esque gratuitous, while the tweaks to the storyline turn it into a typical Hollywood rom-com scenario with a greater distance to cover than usual.
In some ways though, it also still possesses a romanticised, pre-Rogernomics view of New Zealand. Watch this and you'll think we're still a country of pie-filled independent garages around every corner and a fully-operational rail system. If only. South Islanders will also take issue with some of the film's geography.
But for all its faults, like the noughties remake of that other British Leyland car movie – The Italian Job, Pork Pie delivers some undemanding, crowd-pleasing antics and, in this case, some truly homegrown ones.