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Eddy (John Howard) is a family man and a fisherman, who for the last 25 years has had a secret second job as a standover man, to provide a better lifestyle for his wife Yvonne (Rebecca Frith) and his 20 year old daughter Chantelle (Alyssa McClelland). When Chantelle's fiance disappears, the wedding plans are put on hold and in the chaos, Eddy feels distanced from his daughter - who believes her emotionally blocked father has only two feelings "angry" and "very angry". Overeager to get on the same wavelength as his daughter and recapture the closeness they once had, Eddy gets his new sidekick, Dominic (Gyton Grantley) to start reading Chantelle's diary and relay her innermost thoughts and feelings.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A blokey chick flick for the whole family... really. John Howard is a terrific revelation as Eddy, a lumbering hunk of a bloke who is macho but not hollow, with a raspy voice, a ruff goatee beard and ham sized hands; Alyssa McClelland is a modern girl with plenty of feist, but not so much as to be disinterested in love and marriage. The father-daughter relationship is chunky enough for most males to recognise, but with enough genuine, well observed sentiment to give it heart. The comedy comes from the characters and it's dry enough to be funny yet truthful enough to be engaging.

And Rebecca Frith brings an edginess to the frustrated and good natured Yvonne which makes her a real, vulnerable and complex character - all done with the littlest looks, smallest gestures. Good support, too, from young Gyton Grantley as Dominic, whose sense of restrained comedy is spot on.

With A Man's Gotta Do, Chris Kennedy (Doing Time For Patsy Cline) reiterates his writing skills and shows that with a good story based on a serious idea - and a handful of test screenings to refine the editing - Australian comedies can still work. (He chopped 16 minutes from the original cut after tests.)

It's not hard to believe these characters and their situations, and we are never taken for fools by a screenplay that is sprinkled with the sort of casual humour that comes from hard work. It's those understated, throw-away moments that build the film's comic value, but there are also moments of drama to balance it and give it grounding in reality. The importance of the theme - the father-daughter relationship - puts the story into orbit as something worth investing in for the audience.

Peter Best's remarkably full orchestral score has a strong reality, too, occasionally reminiscent of a marching band, thanks to the tuba. In all, A Man's Gotta Do is an entertaining film with broad appeal, a film that is at once unmistakably Australian in substance, yet universal in theme.

Published April 28, 2005

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(Australia, 2004)

CAST: John Howard, Rebecca Frith, Alyssa McClelland, Gyton Grantley,

PRODUCER: John Winter

DIRECTOR: Chris Kennedy

SCRIPT: Chris Kennedy


EDITOR: Emma Hay

MUSIC: Peter Best

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Elizabeth Mary Moore

RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes


SPECIAL FEATURES: The Making of; trailers

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: 21st Century Pictures

DVD RELEASE: April 27, 2005

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