At a glance: This ‘small’ Australian comedy isn’t big on laughs, but it does well to combine a unique concept (a middle-aged boy band, catering to mature-age women) with some nice character moments and understated acting.
Benny G (Glenn Robbins) is a happily married middle-aged man with a 14 year old daughter, and he teaches dance at her high school. But every once in a while, he goes down to his den to stare at the album covers and gold records, and to reminisce about his days of stardom in the boy band Boytown (population: 5). Believing that they once again can be stars, and perhaps to make up for breaking up the band all those years ago to pursue a disastrous solo career, he rounds up the former members to pull them away from their day jobs. Carl (Wayne Hope), the one everyone thought was gay, works in construction. Bobby Mac (Bob Franklin) is a college lecturer. Corey (Gary Eck) is a DJ in a small country town. And Tommy Boy (Mick Molloy) is a couch potato who lives with his ‘gran’ and bets on dog races. Their first foray back into music is disastrous, ruined by the flawed idea of older men singing in a genre that is aimed at young girls, and it doesn’t help when the white stallions they were supposed to ride down the beach don’t show up for the music video shoot, and are instead replaced by Shetland ponies. But then Benny comes up with a great idea – aiming their music at the women who loved the band as teens and are now married with children. With songs like Love Handles, Dishpan Hands, Cellulite Lady, and Picking The Kids Up From School, the guys land a number one hit and a world tour. But just as things seem to be reaching the pinnacle, a botched lip-synched concert and conflicts within the band cause Benny to leave. Will the guys patch things up in time to sing live at the Aria Awards Ceremony?
Boytown was written by brothers Mick and Richard Molloy, who also wrote the Australian comedy Crackerjack. Both comedies are similar – played straight, never going for the big laughs, with relaxed, naturalistic acting, and some character drama thrown in (along with some touches and jokes that only Australians will get). Some of the lyrics of the Boytown songs are a little cringworthy, but the guys get away with it because they really seem to believe in the words. It’s not a great film by any means, but the original concept, some unique moments, and the general mood are enough to make it worthwhile.
Behind the scenes: Tony Martin, long-time collaborator with Mick Molloy (he plays the Michael Moore-like doco film-maker) reportedly did make a documentary showing the real story of Boytown. The doco (called ‘Boytown Confidential’), which is rumored to be funnier than the movie itself, which excluded from the DVD release, which has reportedly caused a rift between Martin and Molloy. As of 26 Jan 2008, ‘Boytown Confidential’ has yet to be screened.
"BoyTown is a gem of an idea – something Dave Dobkin or Ben Stiller are going to be kicking each other nuts-first for not dreaming up earlier – that transcends beautifully to the screen."
- Clint Morris (MovieHole)