Directed by: Tim Ferguson, Marc Gracie
Written by: Tim Ferguson, Edwina Exton
Starring: Xavier Samuel, Morgan Griffin, Travis Jeffery, Lincoln Lewis, Melissa Bergland, Eddie Baroo
Released: September 15, 2016
Grade: B-

Spin Out
Up until yesterday, I had never heard the term “ute muster”.  I now know it’s like a rodeo except with cars in place of bulls.  Crowds line a fenced arena and they watch ute lovers rev their engines, drive in a circle, and complete a serious of manoeuvres.  It’s the kind of place where you might find characters from the Fast & Furious franchise when they’re not off committing crimes.

One aspect of country life I am familiar with is a Bachelor and Spinsters (B&S) ball.  While capital cities are filled with nightclubs that allow people to party every night of the week, B&S Balls provide a rare chance for rural youngsters to dress up, have a few drinks, and try to find true love (or something else perhaps).

These two events provide the backdrop for Spin Out – an Australian comedy penned by Edwina Exton and well-known comedian Tim Ferguson (best known as a member of the Doug Anthony All Stars).  City slickers might look at the setting with a sense of bewilderment (myself included) but country folk should be well familiar with the crazy happenings that one expects on such occasions.  Put simply, this is 90 minutes of people drinking, dancing and driving.  If none of those three boxes are ticked, they’re more than likely looking for love (or at the very least, a one-night stand).

The three central characters here are Billy (Samuel), Lucy (Griffin) and Sparrow (Jeffery).  The film is light on backstory but it’s clear that these three have grown up together in a small rural community and are best friends.  There’s an obvious sexual attraction between Billy and Lucy but neither has the guts to act on it.  Sparrow senses it too but he’s keeping quiet and is content to be the “third wheel.”

Things do reach a tipping point when on the eve of the town’s annual B&S Ball, Lucy announces that she’s moving to Sydney to make more of her life.  The fact she’s only giving 24 hours’ notice seems a bit hasty but ok, it’s a plot device to create tension.  It forces both characters to reveal their cards and when you throw a lot of alcohol into the equation things will be humorous and messy.

There are too many characters in this film and they do distract from the main show.  There’s a guy who is trying to break a beer drinking record while caring for his pregnant wife.  There are three dim-witted folk who have joined the army as an excuse to break up with their girlfriends.  There’s also two men who have rocked up to the B&S Ball in dresses and learn something about their sexuality.

I’d have preferred to see these supporting characters ditched and more time spent fleshing out the history and friendship shared between Billy and Lucy.  They’re ultimately the heart of the film.  That said, there are still a few subplots that add value.  The plight of Sparrow and his quest to win the affections of the no-nonsense Mary (Bergland) is both funny and cute.

Featuring one of the youngest collective casts that we’ve seen in an Australian film for some time, reactions to Spin Out are likely to vary depending on your own sense of humour.