Outfoxed – Kath & Kimderella review

Kath & Kimderella – Starring Jane Turner, Gina Riley, and Magda Szubanski. Directed by Ted Emery. Rated PG. By Simon Miraudo.

It’s hard to imagine how those unfamiliar with Jane Turner and Gina Riley’s comic characters Kath and Kim will take to their first big screen outing, particularly the response of those from a different country altogether. If the Yanks and Brits were puzzled by the accents and attitudes in The Castle, Kath & Kimderella will seem like Un Chien Andalou by comparison. At least there is little chance of any Aussies not knowing who the foxy ladies from Fountain Lakes are, thanks to their hit TV series and general omnipresence. But that might work to the movie’s detriment. Ted Emery’s film adaptation is a wildly unfunny miscalculation. Whereas the television show was a slightly – and hilariously – heightened version of life in the lower-middle class suburbs, Kimderella marks a devolution into outrageous fantasy with no relatable hinge on reality. Even before the picture clocks up the length of a single episode, you’ll likely be looking for distractions to help make the time pass quicker. The obvious choice would be to keep count of all the hackneyed catch phrases, though I found tallying the repeated shots of exposed butt-cracks to be more fruitful.

Kath & Kimderella follows in the footsteps of The Simpsons Movie, The Inbetweeners Movie, and Holiday On the Buses by removing its cast from their comfortable, familiar surroundings, and sending them abroad. Kath (Turner) buys some Wart-Off from the pharmacy, and subsequently wins a trip to the unfortunately named Papilloma, the wart of Italy’s boot. With her husband Kel (Glenn Robbins) terrified of flying (and eyes glued to MasterChef at home), Kath instead invites insolent, recently divorced daughter Kim (Riley) and her sexually confused second-best friend Sharon Strzelecki (Magda Szubanski) along for the ride. Papilloma – a fictional location along the lines of Molvania and Phaic Tan  – is no bustling resort, but rather a financially crippled town presided over by Spanish despot King Javier (a bewigged Rob Sitch). When he and his son (Erin Mullally) mistake Kath and Kim for a couple of blue bloods, they plot to romance them and take their money. Kath cutely admits to having been smart with her cash; she bought in the boom, and sold in the bust.

What follows is a series of sketches that fall flat – almost without exception – and poorly conceived spoofs of such fairytales as The Princess and the Pea and Cinderella, as well as not-quite-fairytales Jane Eyre and The Phantom of the Opera. Nice ideas, executed disastrously. Turner and Riley are still as talented physical comics as they’ve ever been, but as screenwriters they seem to have lost touch with what made their creations great and their televisual exploits so memorable. Also, their scripting talents may better lie in the twenty minute realm if this interminable eighty minute stretch is any indication. Director Emery must take responsibility for the flailing jokes too. His eye for comic compositions is no longer apparent, with post-production flourishes inserted to squeeze laughs from scenes which clearly have none (I swear to God, there is at least one ‘record scratch’ in the soundtrack).

It’s not entirely tragic. The sight of Turner’s Kath dancing will never not be funny, and there are at least four glimpses of it here. Alter egos Prue and Trude turn up, and they’re almost appealing enough to make you want to see them get their own flick (almost). The picture pays nice tribute to the series’ legion of fans by devoting a side-plot in which the (relatively light-hearted) persecution of gays in Papilloma is ended by Kath and Kim’s intervention. Ultimately though, as an admirer of the original series, I can’t forgive a feature that keeps Kel – not to mention Kim’s long-suffering beau Brett (Peter Rowsthorn) – away from the action for much of the running time, or that reduces the title subjects to grating caricatures when they were once these funny, silly, intelligently crafted, and brilliantly out-of-touch women. And that Dame Edna cameo is atrocious.

2/5

Check out Simon’s other reviews here.

Kath & Kimderella is now showing in Australian cinemas.

2 Responses to “Outfoxed – Kath & Kimderella review”

  1. Could not disagree more. My friends and I loved it – laughed all the way through from beginning to end. Of course, the reason I find it funny is because Kath reminds me of my mum in the ’80s, except my mother changed with the times and Kath has not. You can tell that the ladies know these characters insideout. The performances were flawless. Going to a foreign country IS a fairy tale for a lot of people and the incorporation of other well-known stories added to the underlying themes of ordinary(?) Australians living out their dreams. I was going in expecting to see Kath & Kim, and that’s what I got. 4/5. : )

  2. I agree. If you are a fan of the show you will love the movie either way.
    If you are not a fan… why are you seeing it?

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