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Crackerjack (2002)

  Directed by: Paul Moloney
Starring: John Clarke, Bill Hunter, Samuel Johnson, Judith Lucy, Tony Martin, Mick Molloy
Links: Crackerjack on the IMDb
Genre: Comedy
Awards: AFI Awards: Best Film 2003 (nominee)

This movie gets: 7.33 (3 ratings)
nofreelist.com Ranking: Ranked equal 95th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

Crackerjack (2002) is also mentioned in mino's review of Bad Eggs (2003), pearly's review of Bad Eggs (2003) and mino's review of Lantana (2001).

"Bowling for Cityside" - a review by mino

I think it's fair to say that Mick Molloy is a bit of a wildcard of Australian comedy. He has been involved in some of the most successful comedy acts of recent times in Australia, including the D-Generation and the phenomenally successful drive-time radio pairing of Martin/Molloy. Mick's strength has always been in playing the 'loveable larrikin' character: the slightly crazy, roguish, short-tempered madman to the more 'straight man'-type comedians, particularly long-time cohort Tony Martin. However, there's always been a bit of a question mark over Mick's solo work. The biggest example of this (apart from the occasional solo piece on The Late Show and Martin/Molloy) was Mick's short-lived tonight show, The Mick Molloy Show. The show lasted but a few episodes, largely due to the, shall we say, erratic nature of Mick's comedy.

So the big question with Crackerjack, Molloy's big break into filmmaking, is this: as writer and star, can he carry off a film on his own? I'm sure that I'm not the only person who had doubts on this front, but I'm more than happy to report that I was wrong. Crackerjack, while not exactly a cinematic masterwork, is a good fun movie anyway.

Molloy plays Jack Simpson, who is 'called up for service' by the local bowling club — a club of which he is only a member for its readily-available inner-city car parking. The club is short of both players and cash, and Mick is roped in to help out with both. Needless to say, Jack is not keen on the idea of bowling at first, but... well, I don't think it's giving too much away to say that he soon changes his mind. Unpredictability is not Crackerjack's strong point, but it's pretty much funny enough that you don't care.

It's not really the jokes in this movie that are funny though: it's the characters, particularly the various loveable old farts at the bowling club. It is the idiosyncracies of the characters, stereotypical though they are (doddering old lady, gruff old man, lazy slacker, too-cool-for-school best friend, bitchy journalist, and so on), which make Crackerjack work: creating likeable and amusing characters isn't really that easy, and Molloy has done a commendable job. He has managed to create a movie that, while not what you'd call 'ground-breaking', has some very funny scenes: even if they're not really laugh-out-loud funny (and they're not), they'll at least give you constant chuckles.

Crackerjack, while not quite as good as The Castle (1997) or The Dish (2000) (the other films made by D-Generation alumni), is certainly not totally out of their league, as some might have feared. Now all we can do is sit and wait for Tony Martin to join the club with the forthcoming Bad Eggs (2003). Let's hope it's as good as these three.

mino gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 15 Jan 2003

"Worth its weight in crackers" - a review by andy-j

Jack Simpson (Mick Molloy) runs a tidy little scam. He has taken out a few memberships at the local lawn bowls club, which he utilises solely for the car spaces (he uses them himself and hires them out). Meanwhile, the bowls club is on the brink of financial ruin and are about to be taken over by developer Bernie Fowler (John Clarke) and his evil money-grabbing mob. To save themselves, the bowls club enter a bowls tournament, and, due to low memberships, Simpson is made to participate, or forfeit his membership.

Crackerjack is surprisingly good - I say this because Mick Molloy has always been a bit hit and miss to me, but Crackerjack is all hit. It has a lot of charm - lots of Aussie humour, a tried-and-true formula (which doesn't feel at all tired), memorable characters, and a unique subject matter. I knew exactly where Crackerjack was going and how it was going to end, but I loved it all the same. This is because it is very well written and doesn't take itself seriously. It is also because Crackerjack is very well paced, with a good mixture of light-hearted scenes and slightly more serious moments (which are subtle and well done). A lot of the characters are very funny, well-defined, and go through some great development (particulary Simpson himself). Simpson is a larrakin with little sense of responsibility and someone who enjoys his freedom, looking out mainly for number 1. But we gradually see a more tender side emerge, one that is believable and likeable. Particularly well-handled is the theme of the age gap between Simpson and the rest of the bowls club. It provides for some great laughs but is also a good premise for driving the story forward. I applaud Mick Molloy for laying off the toilet humour on this one. It has been approached with a lot of thought and made with a lot of love, and it really shows. Very watchable indeed.

andy-j gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Sat 28 Dec 2002

"More hit than miss" - a review by pearly

Well, I would never have believed it could happen, but Mick Molloy has co-written and starred in his first feature film. From the moment I first heard about this, I was in two minds. I mean, it could very easily fall into two categories: funny or flop. Knowing Mick, he's likely to somehow squeeze it into both (lord knows he managed for The Mick Molloy Show, briefly). Mick's pretty hit-and-miss, and just the idea of a movie by him was balancing that very fine line between hit (e.g. his work on The Late Show) and miss (e.g. his somewhat painful Shonky Golf).

What Mick manages to do with this movie is to pluck a topic out of nowhere (name me one other movie about lawn bowls), and run with it. Of course, he probably only did this because he found out that the beer at the clubs was so cheap, and he wanted to do as much "research" as possible on the subject, but that's probably made the film even better.

Mick stars as Jack Simpson, a guy in a telemarketing job who takes up a membership at the local bowls club so that he can use a few parking spots there, and make a bit of cash on the side from leasing them. But as the members of the club start dying off, and they're running a little low on cash, they decide to enter a bowls comp, and in the absence of any other members, they tell Jack that he has to either bowl with them, or forfeit his membership.

And so, Jack discovers the simple pleasures of lawn bowls. The white clothes and shoes, the cheap booze, the free sandwiches and cheese platters, the neverending tales of the old guys, and the company of Nance, the lawn bowls journalist for the local paper (played by Judith Lucy - hang on a minute, Judith playing a chain-smoking cynic?! That must have been hard for her).

And he's onto a winner. Crackerjack is funny because Mick is having fun with his jokes, rather than just trying to be offensive. And, of course, he brings old pal Tony Martin in for a smaller part, and his lines are some of the funniest things in the whole movie. Crackerjack is definitely a feelgood movie, but not as in "this is sooo nice, I'm going to puke" (like a Disney film). I tip my hat to you, Mr Molloy.

pearly gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 4 Dec 2002

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 3
Average rating: 7.33
Lowest rating: 7 (by mino, pearly)
Highest rating: 8 (by andy-j)
 
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Reader comments

  1. This movie is extremly funny and have enjoyed watching it many times so i suggest every one to go by it or rent it out.

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from Laura on Fri 19 Sep 2003 12:51 #

  2. With an all-star cast, and John Flus as a mime actor, it's much better than Jack's scam.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Mark on Fri 14 Nov 2003 21:52 #

  3. good

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from shaun on Sat 13 Mar 2004 14:37 #

  4. cracker jack was one of the shittest movies i have ever seen.

    A comment from qwerty on Fri 26 Mar 2004 17:38 #

  5. One of the better Aussie movies ever made, it not only tickles the funny bone but also pulls at the heart strings in a few places. I loved it !!

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from Rosie O'Donnell (http://www.featherfoot.cjb.net) on Sat 19 Jun 2004 15:20 #

  6. This is not a extremely funny film, but I laughed all the way through the movie. Great movie!

    Rating given: 8

    A comment from Angel on Wed 23 Feb 2005 22:22 #

  7. This movie is one of my favourites. with malloy as the main character and all the exaggerated bowls charcters i found it was hilarious!

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from Tegan summerill on Mon 07 Mar 2005 12:38 #

  8. at first, i didn't like it so much, but after watching it for a second time, i found it to be heaps funny!! i especially liked Samuel Jackson, he was adorable

    Rating given: 8

    A comment from cassie on Wed 09 Mar 2005 21:03 #

  9. CrackerJack a true Austrailan movie. If you dont like this movie go back to your country of origin.
    How much money was in the swearjar at the end of the film?

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from the AshDog on Tue 14 Jun 2005 20:08 #

  10. wots the song called that is playd at the start when mick molley is driving his car ?

    A comment from xav p on Sun 24 Jul 2005 23:12 #

  11. i loved it i thought judith lucy was great!!!!

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from kate on Mon 25 Jul 2005 19:00 #

  12. I thought it was great! Real Aussie, real funny. I also like the song that was playing in his car at the start.. What is it?

    Rating given: 7

    A comment from Kaitlin on Thu 28 Jul 2005 12:15 #

  13. i really want ot know what the song thast played at the start is called too!!! please im desperate i love it but i dont know the name!! ='(

    A comment from ducky on Mon 01 Aug 2005 17:53 #

  14. I think the song was by Ben Lee but i dont know the actual name of the song but i also want to know

    Rating given: 7

    A comment from DJ on Sat 29 Oct 2005 22:38 #

  15. The song is Cigarettes Will Kill You, from Ben Lee's album Breathing Tornados.

    A comment from Nic (http://nofreelist.com/) on Wed 02 Nov 2005 09:50 #

  16. i like this movie like fat kids like cake

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from cleadus sinclair macinshanbleble on Mon 13 Feb 2006 15:41 #

  17. timmothy is a silly person

    Rating given: 7

    A comment from mike on Mon 13 Feb 2006 15:42 #

  18. mike you sexy beast come to my bed room tonight

    A comment from gurtrude wilmur winklewinkle on Mon 13 Feb 2006 15:46 #

  19. sooo argh... you like stuff?? personally i'd prefer things, but hey if i was bored enough i would do both..

    A comment from Mad c*nt on Mon 13 Feb 2006 15:48 #

  20. this isnt working, everbody hu reads this me and timothy are learning about carres at nudgee

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from red dawg on Mon 13 Feb 2006 15:49 #

  21. tarquin gives orsum head this movie rox (i'd go judith lucy)

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from tarquin and kynun on Fri 17 Feb 2006 10:08 #

  22. simpsons gotta tap that shit before she starts sleepin around- boo yall

    A comment from tarquin and kynun on Fri 17 Feb 2006 10:21 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 8.73 (15 ratings)

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