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:: Let's Get Skase

As “Lets Get Skase” opens, extracts of news and current affairs programs outline the Rise and Rise of Christopher Skase. But then of course, within moments, in the tradition of Western Australian businessmen of the 80’s and 90’s, the bulletins turn to the inevitable dramatic fall, taking with him millions of dollars of the Australian public’s money. If there was ever a premise to base a film on, getting even with this bastard has got to be a good one.

As Skase skives off to the Mediterranean Island of Spanish Majorca, legalities, technicalities and the realities cause the Australian Government and the Qintex Creditors Board to sit by, hands tied and mouths agape. As Australians scream, “There has got to be another way”, who other but comedian Andrew Denton would answer the call, with, “Well yes there is, we’ll start a telethon style fundraiser and put together the funds required to hire a renown American bounty hunter to go there and take him by force.” After this scheme was given the big “no no” by the Creditors Board and the Government alike, others weren’t so sure that this was a bad idea. Kidnap plots hatched around the country and this real life chase for Skase is what Lets Get Skase is based on.

If there is one thing that Peter Dellasandro (Lachy Hulme), a down and out con man, failed TV producer and restaurateur can do- its smell a moneymaking opportunity a mile away. After meeting Daniel D’Amato Senior (Vince D’Amico) late at a bar one night as they drown their collective monetary sorrows, Dellasandro gets to thinking, maybe Andrew Denton was on to something. By the next afternoon, Dellasandro, a Ferris Bueller type character, with dress sense reminiscent of a bad time in the 80’s or Colin from Ben Elton’s “Stark”, a novel also based in WA, has somehow managed to convince the Qintex Board, a meeting of very angry creditors and himself, that Skase will be brought back to Australia and that he is indeed, the only man for the job.

Not a problem, all he has to do is assemble a team to execute this mission of missions. After trying and failing to recruit TV’s Eric Carney (Craig McLachlan), the star of a reality television style program The Debt Collector and who doesn’t know the meaning of the word t-shirt, Eric Carney decides that he wouldn’t mind a crack at this himself, and so ensues a war between the two teams as to who will get the job.

Dellasandro determined to get this gig, sets about assembling his team. Mitchell Vendieks (Bill Kerr), Skase’s ex- bodyguard with inside knowledge of Skase’s security systems heads up the teams. Dave Phibbs (Nick Sheppard, formerly of the Clash) the token Englishman in the team is hired as the getaway driver. Rupert Wingate (Adam Haddrick) a nerd who spends his days as the state records depository and who knows more about Skase’s business empire than Skase himself is hired as the intelligence expert. Sean Knight (Torquil Nelson) who is not good at much, but who does know how to wire things together is hired as the technology expert, and last but not least, Danny D’Amato Junior (Alex Dimitriades), son of Qintex’s Chairman of the Board, who sees his inheritance about to go down the toilet and who doesn’t trust Dellasandro as far as he can throw him, makes up the “soul” of the team. As the team knuckle down into training and the requisite male bonding that goes with any of this sort of adventure, little do they know that Skase is one step ahead of them. Skase’s new best friend, German billionaire Beneheim Bencini (George Shevtsov) has already bought out the crucial member of the board.

Just as the job goes to Eric Carney and his posse of badly dressed hombres, Mitchell has a heart attack and is on his deathbed and Government regulator Dick Rydell (Bill Ten Eyck) has the team arrested, all looks lost until Sean puts the pieces of the puzzle together and realises Skase’s next move is to resurrect his empire by securing a deal to buy a major European Media Company Sutech. Dellasandro’s team is the only one ready to go and through a surge of respect for Mitchell and for a motive other than moneymaking, Dellasandro convinces Dick Rydell that they are the only team for the job. So ensues the hatching of the plan, whereby Dellasandro’s team go to Spain to stop the deal going ahead to attempt to bring Skase home but also and more importantly to crash his party and drink all his beer while they are at it.

Lets Get Skase is based on a fantastic idea and contains some hilarious scenes, the serving of dinner and the dance floor numbers being particularly memorable. However in the end, the story just doesn’t flow. It is never completely clear who this Dellasandro character is and just why a reputable company board would want to cooperate with him in the first place, although the scene about the 1997 AFL Grand Final between Carlton and North Melbourne was a great idea, the audience just aren’t caught up in it.

There also seems to be some aspects of the film that have been dropped in editing however remnants of them are still littered throughout the film which in the end just cause confusion, such as the Celia (Renee Newman- Storen) character. The rivalry between Eric Carney and Dellasandro, despite a corker of a performance from Craig McLachlan, just doesn’t work, and although there are many times you really want to laugh out loud, you just find you can’t. The film pitches itself at a sort of Strictly Ballroom level, where hilarity and normalcy are supposed to go hand in hand, however here, the filmmakers just don’t quite pull it off.

However, for anyone whom Skase has ever burnt, and I imagine there are several thousand of you out there, it is definitely worth a look. Also for any Perthites, it is wonderful to see WA up there on the big screen and also to see how WA icons the Cottesloe Civic Centre and the University of Western Australia can be made to look like Christopher Skase’s Majorcan mansion!