Goodbye Pork Pie/Review

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Some movies deserve to be among those that bought the cinema of their country to the wider audience. They may not always be considered as classics but they have a hand in popularizing their cinema. Goodbye Pork pie is among the ones that bought New Zealand cinema to the mainstream. It is a fun zany romp which doesn't let up that justifies its presence in New Zealand cinema history. Though it might seem dated and the humor might even seem patchy at times. But it is hard not to root for its chaos loving goofs who thrive on spreading anarchy as they go. It is also a wonderful travelogue of the country. As we get to follow the zany adventures of the two protagonists across the country.

Directed by Geoff Murphy, who directed New Zealand classics like Utu and The Quiet Earth. Moving to Hollywood, he directed a few movies over there. Which includes the infamous Freejack starring Mick Jagger, Emilio Estevez, and Anthony Hopkins. The contrast of how he did so little despite an amazing cast and resources in Freejack. To this movie where he did so much with so little is amazing. Later he became the 2nd unit director on the Lord of the Rings movies, everyone's favorite movie shot in New Zealand.

The story of the movie is straightforward. Gerry Austin (Kelly Johnson) rents a Mini with money he had stolen. Driving to Auckland without a specific aim, he befriends John (Tony Barry) who helped him get out of a spot. John wants to go to Invercargill to win back his girlfriend who had broken up with him. To help him out, Gerry gives him a lift. while also picking up Shirl (Claire Oberman). After driving off without paying for petrol, the trio draws the attention of the cops. This starts an epic and nationwide manhunt and chase across New Zealand for them.

It is a surprise that for a movie that involves a car and cops chasing it, the action might seem a little sparse. It doesn't have the epic sense of chaos and car crashes of Gone in 60 seconds, Connonbal Run or even Grand Theft Auto. Movies that might fit as Porky Pie's big brother contemporaries. The low budget of the movie also does shows. Though the makers have expanded and stretch their resources pretty well. What with many of the stunts also performed by the director himself.

It might draw parallels with Dirty Mary Crazy Larry though. As the main characters seem similar in both movies. With the crazy younger partner stuck with the older wiser man and a sassy young girl stuck between them. Even if that is not the case. And the girl kind of drifts away around midway through the movie here. It does a bang-up job glorifying drifters and vagabonds who wallow and revel in their aimlessness. The actors look like they are having a blast and the stunts felt real.

What might also disappoint some would be the lack of "iconic" cars. With more is better being the usual norm in the car chase genre. There might be an alternate universe where the yellow mini of the movie becomes a cultural icon. That's also a running gag in the movie. It's hard to miss it by a mile and the cops keep coming at them because of that. Yet they still wouldn't part with it. Despite the car having crashed, rolled, smashed, broken, taken to hell and back. Finally going down in a blaze of glory.

It was also remade as Pork Pie by Geoff Murphy's son that is well worth your time. I watched it both back to back almost like a double feature. Might not work for everyone but it is worth seeking.

The thing about the New Zealand film industry is that it was not cult movie heavy at the time Goodbye Porky Pie came out. Not able to justify its existence as a genre like Ozploitation did as very few movies broke out. Sure, an easy temptation is to club it with that genre. As it is often confused or thought to be a part of Australian cinema. That could be the reason for not being as known as its neighboring country's contemporaries. Even though the movie is as crazy and zany as the best of them and was released during the heights of the Ozploitation craze. But rather than trying to pigeon hole it into a specific genre, I would say enjoy a fun zany romp that may not be perfect. But once you get used to the heavy accents of the leads, you are in for a real ride.

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