Crikey, those Aussie sheilas and blokes are a weird bunch, aren’t they? Australians have a somewhat unique sense of humour that is often described as dry, ironic, laconic, self-mocking and full of extremes, and if you’ve seen any of the films below, you’d probably say that description’s fair dinkum – or dinky di, depending on what part of Australian you’re from. Whether you’re a true blue Strayan or you simply love the Aussie humour, you’ll love these Top Ten Australian Comedies.
10. The Nugget (2002)
Australian actors Eric Bana and Steve Curry star alongside comedian and radio host Dave O’Neil in this light film about three best mates who go out searching for gold each week returning home with nothing but a hangover. One weekend they do happen to discover the world’s biggest gold nugget, but can their friendship survive their individual greed?
9. The Dish (2000)
Australia may be a relatively new country that hasn’t played much of a major role in world-changing events (yet), but did you know that a radio telescope in New South Wales, Australia was instrumental in the televising of man’s first steps on the moon? In this somewhat fictionised film based on true events, The Dish tells the funny story of this event and how it almost didn’t happen. Starring Sam Neill (from Jurassic Park!), Patrick Warburton and Tom Long, the film grossed over $17 million at the box office in Australia.
8. Strictly Ballroom (1992)
Okay, so it’s more a rom-com than an actual comedy (which is why it ranks a little low in this list), but Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom makes the list because a) it’s a classic piece of Australian cinema and b) well, it’s funny in that it’s kind of like an awkward Australian version of Dirty Dancing – unpopular and unpretty girl wants to dance with hot pro dancer, who in turn wants to dance ‘his moves’ and not that of the establishment… one thing leads to another and well, look I’m not giving any more away. This film grossed $21 mil at the Aussie box office, won a BAFTA and an award at Cannes while nominated for several other awards around the globe.
7. Crackerjack (2002)
“G’day, G’day”. Released in 2002 around the time when it was popular for 20-something Australians to mix a Sunday sesh (of drinking) with lawn bowls (well, as he says in this clip, the drinks are cheaper there), Crackerjack centres on Jack who joins a bowls club to get free parking and then has to compete in a bowls tournament in order to keep is membership. This film stars comedians Mick Molloy and Judith Lucy as well as actors Saumel Johnson, Bill Hunter, Frank Wilson and more.
6. Kenny (2006)
Australians love celebrating the unsung hero and this mokumentary is a perfect example of that as it follows small business owner Kenny who travels the country going from music festival to sports event to, well, any kind of event that requires his service: renting out and maintaining portable toilets. Maintaining that dry ironic humour, the film premiered at a small country town no-one has heard of called Poowong. It grossed $7.8mil at the Aussie box office.
5. Young Einstein (1988)
Actor Yahoo Serious plays the lead role of Albert Einstein in this somewhat odd Australian take on the life of the genius theoretical physicist, who in this film lives on an apple farm in Tasmania (that island off the bottom of Australia), ground-breakingly splits the atom with a chisel, invents rock and roll, falls in love with a French gal named Marie Curie, and tries to save the world from a nuclear reactor. It sounds weird and far-fetching, and guess what? It is! But funny, nevertheless.
4. Muriel’s Wedding (1994)
Before she was the mother with an identity disorder in the United States of Tara, or the mum in the feel-good film Little Miss Sunshine, or the mum in the ‘no-one saw that coming’ Sixth Sense (gee, I’m seeing a theme here), Toni Collette was the painfully awkward outcast Muriel in the 1994 Australian-French co-production Muriel’s Wedding. Collette apparently packed on 18kgs in just seven weeks for this role (which doesn’t even sound possible!), where the ABBA-obsessed young girl Muriel yearns for a man to marry her at a glamorous wedding (so everyone can see she’s not the frumpy and unfashionable gal they know her to be) and rescue her from her unhappy life. Sounds a bit depressing, but it’s actually a feel-good film full of the LOLs – ah bless the Aussie humour and their love for the underdog.
2. Priscilla Queen Of the Desert (1994)
Apparently David Bowie, John Cleese, Rupert Everett, Jason Donovan, Colin Firth and Tim Curry were among the many actors considered or approached to be in this cult classic of three drag queens who journey across the Australian desert, before Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce and Bill Hunter were settled on. This film not only picked up an Academy Award for Best Costume Design and was screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival (and later was turned into a hit stage musical), it was also regarded as significant for bringing Australian cinema to world attention and for its positive portrayal of homosexual and transgendered main characters.
2. Crocodile Dundee (1986)
Thanks to Paul Hogan, the original Crocodile Hunter, whenever and wherever Aussies travel they’ll always be associated with the quotes ‘That’s not a knife, this is a knife’ and ‘Throw another shrimp on the barbie’ (which is from a tourism campaign he did) such is the success and popularity of this now famous face (thanks, mate!). This 1986 comedy sees American journalist Sue (Linda Kozlowski) fly to “Outback” Australia to find this infamous crocodile hunter, whom she later invites to return to NYC with her. Based loosely on Rodney Ansell, this film became a worldwide phenomenon and the second highest-grossing film worldwide of that year, although much of the Australian slang was taken out of the American version and replaced with more widely understood phrases. What Flamin’ gallahs!
1. The Castle (1997)
Coming in at number one is the now classic comedy The Castle, starring Eric Bana, Stephen Curry, Michael Caton, Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell and many more. Told from the point of view of youngest son Dale Kerrigan, this film is about a loveable and house-proud working-class family whose charmingly modest home (not just a house) is being taken away from them by big city developers and the government who want to extend the nearby airport. With such memorable one-liners as ‘Tell ‘im he’s dreamin’. ‘How’s the serenity’, ‘Dad, I dug a hole’ and so many more, this off-beat comedy is not just full of warm-hearted laughs but also explores serious and relevant Australian issues such as Land Rights. This film was shot mostly around Melbourne in just 11 days on a shoe-string budget of $19,000 AUD and went on to gross over $10 mil at the Australian box office, and of course launch the career of much-loved Aussie actor Curry as well as the internationally-known Bana (Hanna, Chopper, Hulk, Troy…).