Marc Gracie and Tim Ferguson move operations to the outback, which is where everything, including their movie, begins to spin out of control.
Spin Out is a woeful, misshapen heap, in which Australians are given a free pass to behave like unchained pigs on spring break while several kindergarten-grade love stories threaten to blossom between them. It’s like watching an old Nicholas Sparks novel adapted by Crocodile Dundee, only the crocodiles are replaced with customised dirt utes that zoom and growl and supposedly entertain by performing loops and figure-eights in a country arena. Thrilling stuff.
One team, composed of Billy (Xavier Samuel), Sparrow (Travis Jeffery) and Lucy (Morgan Griffin), is the crowd favourite, but Billy’s in-the-arena showmanship proves to be too much, and now Lucy wants to move to Sydney. If by now Billy hasn’t realised that swirling around in a broken-down truck for the rest of his life isn’t going to pay the mortgage, he’s a couple of screws loose.
But judging from his present company, I doubt anyone in this movie owns a house. Following the dirt ute championships, all participants are cordially invited to the ball, which isn’t so much a ball as a mosh pit of booze and bodily fluids. The next morning, bodies are strewn about the grounds as if flung by a hurricane. “The ball happens annually”, Sparrow helpfully advises, “because it takes a year to recover”. Uh huh.
Who cares about any of this? What have these characters done to deserve this lifestyle? If, by some stroke of misfortune, they genuinely hold this ute-dashing, beer-hogging ritual in high esteem, I’m afraid they are indeed destined to twirl dirty pickup trucks for the rest of their days. These people aren’t programmed to appear in any other kind of movie.
The central love story revolves around Billy and Lucy, who grew up together and share that back-and-forth romantic tension commonly seen between kids and that toy in the display window. Billy says all the wrong things. Lucy hates him for it, but secretly adores his goofiness. Lucy catches Billy kissing another woman. She’s devastated. Billy gets drunk and professes his true feelings. There’s a frantic last-minute pursuit. Will Lucy make good on her plan to move to Sydney? You know how it goes. Somewhere Nic Sparks is demanding his royalties.
Spin Out is directed by first-timers Marc Gracie and Tim Ferguson, who, I was told, spent nine years trying to get this film made. Nine years. What about this story encouraged them to see it through? Were they completely happy with the final draft? I worry for their next film if they were. It doesn’t tell an accurate love story. It doesn’t observe proper human behaviour. It doesn’t connect with comedy. What Spin Out boils down to is that without their trucks, beer and overall lust for the chaotic, these characters have nothing.
Tim Ferguson reportedly owns the third largest collection of Star Wars toys in the southern hemisphere. He should have made a movie about that.
Spin Out is available in Australian cinemas from September 15
Image courtesy of Sony Pictures