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:: The Wannabes

This is the first directorial effort for likeable Melbourne comedian Nick Giannopoulos. He has been a star of television, theatre, and film. He featured in the hit film The Wogboy a couple of years ago. Before this film came to our screens, it was acknowledged by a showing at the influential Tribeca Film Festival this year. Nick wrote and stars in The Wannabes and makes a fair fist in bringing across something different to what his followers might have expected.

The story starts with Danny (Nick Giannopoulos), a young actor who appears on a television talent show, only to suffer the fate of being “gonged” out of contention and humiliated by a harsh judge. Moving forward a number of years, a grown-up Danny has become a dance instructor to senior citizens. His life changes again, though, when he meets several mean-looking characters and teaches them to sing and dance for work as children’s entertainers. Little does Danny know that this “gang” is planning on using this gimmick as a smokescreen for a future crime.

We go through the transformation of these men in learning how to sing and be entertaining to children in their costumes. Danny’s added bonus is that he is around a possible love interest in Kirsty (Isla Fisher), sister of a member of the group, Marcus (Russell Dykstra). Some of the laughs are hearty and there is lots of colour and ridicule. Things become more wacky and silly as the lead-up to a big children’s concert to be held at the large house owned by billionaire Mrs Rory Van Dyke (Lena Cruz).

The often crude, no-talent group becomes an inadvertent hit, amongst the seemingly silly antics and sight gags. Their real ambition, to steal a valuable diamond necklace from the mansion, is foiled but perhaps a newfound career has started. They receive bookings and offers galore. But will the group’s criminal past catch up with them eventually?

Credit goes to a couple of fine acting performances. Lena Cruz is a revelation as Mrs Van Dyke. Her belligerent attitude and sexual appetite provide humorous moments. Isla Fisher also proves to be accomplished.

The excessive swearing may turn a few people off, if they believe that the film is solely devoted to the efforts of the group to sing-a-long with the kids. Therefore, the film has been rated M. Nick Giannopoulos has a strong base of support in Australia for all the good work he’s done. It will be interesting to see how people react. It’s not as good as The Wogboy, but this is a very different and bold film. Maybe the lack of a “wog” element, Nick’s specialty, is the factor that undermines The Wannabes. Despite the good idea for this film, it only hits the right note occasionally.