Monday, September 08, 2003


Whither Australian film comedies

There’s been a lather of print lately over the recent run of underperforming Oz comedy films. Taking the “Film critic in most urgent need of a humour transplant” cake, though, is Lawrie Zion.

I haven’t yet seen the film “Take Away” – but the slate is clean here, because Zion isn’t purporting to review it, either. Instead, he sermonises like a MBA textbook on the lead characters’ lack of managerial nous:

A pair of rival fish-and-chip shop owners . . . suddenly find themselves facing competition from a big bad American burger chain, and respond by deploying a range of desperate and destructive tactics to ensure their enemy isn't allowed to gain a foothold. On a perverse, if entirely unintentional level, it is a strangely radical film. For where else would you expect to find "heroes" whose moral justification for waging war on the competition is that the new kid on the block just might make their already ailing inefficient businesses even less viable?

Yeah, having a pair of cold’n’clammy economic rationalists in the lead would have made the film much funnier, I’m sure.

Talking of unintentional comedy and textbook management failure, the Ruth Dunkin saga continues to roll on. Take a look at Crikey’s latest instalment; it had me in stitches.

I’m sure one day someone will make a film about it, a la the anti-Thatcherism masterpiece “Britannia Hospital” (1982). In the meantime, Ruth’s own box office takings – for “Change Management”, the movie – will surely inspire Australia’s put-upon film-makers to persevere. Nothing has ever tanked (or probably ever will) as totally as Ruth’s big budget horror flick.

Hint to Ruth: think of RMIT as a fish-and-chip shop. You know all about change, so it's puzzling, from a customer service POV, that when you "change" the oil in the deep fryer, you merely top up the old oil with a bit of new stuff - a technique you no doubt learnt in a MBA textbook.

(Update) So here's the bottom-line rub for Ruth: Those who implement today's MBA case studies will most assuredly be tomorrow's textbook failures.

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