Screened as part of NZIFF 2010
Howick gets its close-up and actor William McInnes (Look Both Ways) nails the can-do, get-ahead, ever-loving barbecue dad (with rocks in his head) in Brendon Donovan’s affectionate comedy-drama. The hopes and dreams of political success that cleaning contractor Gazza Snell trumpets as the movie gets underway turn out to be a typical, expensive and short-lived caprice. He’s committed to the long haul only when it comes to making motorsport heroes out of his kart-racing teenage sons, confident 17-year-old Marc and 14-year-old Ed, repeatedly incited by the sensitive Gazza to surpass his older brother. He’s borrowed a fortune to make it all happen – and you may wish to take a skillet to him when you see the wounded expression that crosses his face as his regularly dismayed wife (Robyn Malcolm) confronts him with evidence of myriad unpaid household bills. Dads who never grew up are now officially this year’s flavour in New Zealand cinema, and this one has some harsh lessons coming.
Donovan administers them generously. He grew up in Howick himself and travelled a very long way before coming back to pay Widescreen homage. He also takes the temperature of the ethnic mix that changed in the meantime: Let’s just say that Gazza’s attitude to the local Chinese businessman who can offer him a job is messed-up, but young Marc’s instant alliance with the businessman’s daughter suggests saner days ahead. As Marc, the striking Josh McKenzie touchingly blends the assurance and uneasiness of a Dad’s boy who’d like a chance to do his own growing up. In a Festival replete with generation gaps, one of the most emotionally loaded has a Kiwi accent. We are delighted to be celebrating a new Kiwi comedy-drama from deep in the heart of Howick. — BG