The concept of mateship figures heavily in our national identity. On the small screen, it's used every evening to sell us stuff ranging from building supplies to anti-drink drive messages. Our best Olympic configuration these days seems to be teams of two almost-matching blokes.
And, of course, our greatest comedy export is a double act of seemingly best buddies, one of whom - Bret McKenzie - appears in this black comedy, which attempts to do for mateship what Psycho did for moteliers and their mums.
Well, sort of. It does suggest throughout its grimly entertaining frequently hilarious duration that mateship can be too much of a good thing - in the case of friends-since-school Nige (McKenzie) and Deano (Hamish Blake of Aussie comedy duo Hamish and Andy) it can turn into very bad thing involving an accidentally killed Norwegian backpacker and efforts to discreetly dispose of his remains in the Southland hinterland.
But as with previous body-disposal black comedies like Shallow Grave and Death in Brunswick, the cadaver caper isn't the whole point of this. It's more about how, having made the decision to try to get away with it, the characters cope with the pressure, the guilt, the grim reality. In this case, not too well.
Having bowled over the Scandinavian tourist in the wee small hours in the middle of Invercargill, dim Nige turns to dim-but-overbearing Deano, with whom he has been having a rocky relationship of late, to figure out what to do.
Off they go, body in boot to the Catlins, having brought along Nige's new well-adjusted mate Gav (Pohatu), for the ride.
The beauty of the landscape certainly offsets the increasingly ugly thoughts of Deano as he sees himself take charge of the situation and prove his undying loyalty to his little buddy.
As has been much canvassed in these pages and elsewhere, Two Little Boys is long way from being a Flight of the Conchords meets Hamish and Andy movie. It's the second feature from director-writer brothers Robert and Duncan Sarkies who had much transgressive fun with their 1999 local hit Scarfies, set up the road in Dunedin.
Scarfies had the advantage of an ensemble to sustain its energy and a tight spot to enclose them. Two Little Boys, however, is much less populated and once it's left Invercargill for the wilderness, the narrative momentum meanders and the comedy starts to feel propped up by things like the recently deceased backpacker reappearing to freak out Nige and colourful encounters with the local wildlife (oh and Ian Mune).
It's a bit too long for its own good. But there's still something weirdly compelling about TLB, care of the performances (Blake's especially) and its portrait of mateship gone mad.
Cast: Bret McKenzie, Hamish Blake, Maaka Pohatu
Director: Robert Sarkies
Rating: R15 offensive language & several scenes may offend
Running time: 105 minutes
Verdict: A black, bleak bro-mantic comedy
- TimeOutBy Russell Baillie @RBaillieNZH Email Russell