Directed by: Marc Gracie
Written by:Dave O’Neil, Mark O’Toole
Starring: Vince Colosimo, Stephen Curry, Rose Byrne, Nathan Phillips, Matthew Dyktynski
Released: August 14, 2003
Grade: B

Back in 1997, there was documentary made called McLibel.  I remember it from the hilarious video cover which had a picture of a Ronald McDonald dancing down the street with his thumbs in the air.  The film followed the story of two British people who took on McDonalds.  Despite losing the case on a technicality (it’s currently being appealed), the judge stated his that the multinational corporation exploits children, produces misleading advertising, is cruel to animals, is against unionisation and pays staff low wages.

I do have sympathy for McDonalds since their successes have made them an easy target.  Like Microsoft, the fact that they have overly excelled in their business has left them open for bad press.  However, I do see the negatives that arise from such monopolistic competition and accordingly, I really did enjoy watching the new Australian film, Take Away.

Tony (Colosimo) and Trev (Curry) run two take away shops on the same block.  Tony is a man of class.  He motivates himself with Anthony Robbins tapes, prides himself on his marketing and service ability, and entices customers with daily fish specials.  Trev is the exact opposite.  His store is filthy and his appearance leaves much to be desired but he’s still got the best burgers in town and the people still keep coming in.  Tony and Trev compete friendly with each other but they’re soon to become allies when a much bigger player moves in.

Opening their latest chain on the empty block next door is Burgies.  The store has the all the characteristics of McDonalds – the soggy fries, the 10-year-old staff, the cute jingles.  At a community meeting, the Burgies manager proclaims his delight in that his company donates money to junior sport and has a centre to care for sick children.

Within days of opening, Tony and Trev see their businesses faltering.  They are no match for the marketing juggernaut and their anger is growing.  The last straw comes when Burgies steals Trev’s idea of “beef nuggets”.  For some reason, they didn’t try his idea of “dim sim on a stick”.  Still, it’s all about survival and in this David and Goliath comedy, we know who’s going to come off best.

The jokes weaken in the final half hour of the film which indicates there wasn’t enough material to pull the story off.  The alluring Rose Byrne (Two Hands) is wasted in a role which should have been bigger given her talent.  In what must be a record though, Take Away marks the fourth time I have seen her in five weeks.  She’s been busy with I Capture The Castle, The Rage In Placid Lake and The Night We Called It A Day currently in cinemas.  Another supporting actor to watch in the future is Nathan Phillips.  He plays Trev’s assistant in Take Away and he’s already been cast in a string of upcoming films following his starring debut in last year’s Australian Rules.

You probably don’t realise it but July through September each year is always the season for seeing good Australian films.  Their release is timed so that they are fresh in the minds of members when casting their votes for the Australian Film Industry Awards (announced in November).  Not since 2000 have we had such an exciting crop of Australian releases and with so many  in major cinemas at the moment, take the time to support our own industry.  You’ll be surprised.