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:: Griff The Invisible

Reworking the superhero genre, Leon Ford makes his feature film debut with the new Australian romantic comedy Griff the Invisible. Griff (Ryan Kwanten), office worker by day, superhero by night (or so he believes) takes it upon himself to defend the crime-ridden streets of Sydney. Griff is a socially awkward pushover, the kid everyone made fun of at school, and his luck hasn’t changed. Still bullied at work, his condescending older brother, Tim (Patrick Brammall), doesn’t help matters. Griff’s only refuge is the delusional alter ego he retreats to under the cover of darkness: Griff the Invisible. A lonely boy who never grew up, Griff seems destined to alienation, until he meets his brother’s girlfriend Melody (Maeve Dermody), a person equally as strange, perhaps his one and only counterpoint in this cruel, dull world.

Despite its sweet, innocent core, the film simply falls short. When dealing with humour of the awkward variety there is a fine line between painful and hilarious. Ben Stiller perhaps reins the master in films like Meet the Parents and There’s Something About Mary, Napolean Dynamite succeeded in founding an entire film on the awkward exploits of its strange protagonist, and even Hugh Grant bumbles his way into our hearts. Unfortunately, the humour in Griff was not so well crafted, the scales tipping in favour of the painful and, at times, you want to go up to the screen and slap some social skills into Griff – I mean, is anyone that socially inept? The film does have heart, but it doesn’t quite shine as warmly as some of its genre-kin. The central romance develops well, but even it, too, falls short, failing to really swell within you. The story doesn’t live up to its potential both at the script and directorial stages, the whole film passes by in a cute, mild, insignificant stroll.

However, the anti-coming-of-age narrative was refreshing and the character of Melody was engaging: a space cadet through and through with a unique perspective of the world, a guardian angel to our awkward protagonist, a perfect match for Griff, and this is the charm of the film – it is a story of hope, of soul mates colliding in a mundane world. The film has a reassuring message, but unfortunately doesn’t quite hit the mark. It is a modest and sweet film, but a bit too lackadaisical, which is a shame.