Directed by: Dean Murphy
Written by:Stewart Faichney, Dean Murphy
Starring: Paul Hogan, Shane Jacobson, Morgan Griffin, Roy Billing
Released: September 3, 2009
Grade: B+

One of the most talked about movies from the first half of the year was Gran Torino – most people liked/loved it but I had a few issues with it.  It was about an elderly guy facing a life on his own following the death of his wife.  His kids tried to put him in a home but he got them back by cutting them out of his will.  Clint Eastwood’s character was an unsociable racist but somehow he went through some transformation and befriended an Asian family who lived next door.  I didn’t buy it.

The reason I’ve referred to Gran Torino is that it reminded me of Charlie & Boots – which I think is a better film.  It opens in exactly the same way.  Charlie (Hogan) is attending the funeral of his wife with whom he’d been married for 40 years.  Following the burial, he shuts himself away at his home.  He closes all the curtains and just lies on the couch.

Boots (Jacobson) is his oldest son and the two have shared a rocky relationship in recent years for reasons which become known mid-way through the film.  Seeing that his dad needs help, he extends the olive branch and takes him on a trip.  They are going to drive from Melbourne to the most northern tip of Australia in Cape York to go fishing.  It is something they’ve both always wanted to do.  Now’s the time to do it.

You could say there are many purposes to the trip.  It’s a chance for Charlie to get out of the house and move on following the death of his wife.  It’s a chance for both Charlie and Boots to heal the rifts that have developed between them.  It’s also a chance to have fun on a good old fashioned road trip.

The pair go through a mix of country towns on their way north and I’m sure audiences will enjoying seeing a few familiar sights.  They see the Giant Koala near Horsham and the famous musical hall in Tamworth.  They even stop in at Tenterfield – a small town in northern New South Wales which I visited myself earlier this month.

I’d describe the film as a comedy but there are elements of drama which give the film a nice balance.  Thankfully, it’s nothing like Paul Hogan’s last comedic effort, Strange Bedfellows with Michael Caton.  Hogan and Jacobson (of Kenny fame) make a good pair and they work well off each other.  I laughed several times through the film and can safely recommend it as a crowd pleaser.

It’s no co-incidence to see Charlie & Boots being released the week before Father’s Day and hopefully that will give it a boost at the local box-office.  It’s a much more believable tale of redemption than that dished up Gran Torino.