A MAN'S GOTTA DO
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 Louise Keller:
The writing is smart and the performances appealing in Aussie comedy A Man's Gotta Do, an entertaining story about a rough, tough bloke who finds his sensitive side. John Howard's Eddy leads a double life. His family thinks he runs a fishing trawler, but Eddy started supplementing his income 25 years ago working as a part-time thug, so he can give them everything they want. The trouble is, the only thing that financial success has done, is alienate him from his wife Yvonne and daughter Chantelle.
A character-driven comedy that pivots on the father/daughter relationship, A Man's Gotta Do opens our eyes to life in a small town, where even the simple is complex. Eddy loves his daughter, but has great difficulty conveying his emotions. When asked how he feels, all Eddy can think to say, is he feels cold. By contrast, Chantelle pours her heart out in the lyrics of songs she writes, and into her private diary, where she confides her inner-most thoughts. This is a story about the complexities of relationships and the difficulties of communicating with the people you love.
The characters are funny but so real, and director/writer Chris Kennedy (Doing Time For Patsy Cline) delivers a truck-load full of pathos, truth and humour. John Howard's gruff, pot-bellied Eddy has so much screen presence there is hardly room for anyone else, while Alyssa McClelland's Chantelle (or Shonny) is the epitome of sweet innocence. Eddy is dying to know what Chantelle is up to, but can't bring himself to peek into her diary himself. After all, getting his new right-hand man Dominic to do his dirty work is becoming a habit. Gyton Grantley is terrific as Dominic, as he finds his feet, as well as the love of his life, and Rebecca Frith is just right as Yvonne. We become involved with this diverse bunch of characters - the fortune teller whose predictions come in riddles, the local doctor who spends much of his time doing vasectomies, Eddy's mistress Delores, Chantelle's best friend, and local plumber Paul, who takes advantage of Yvonne's feelings of rejection.
I really felt as though I got to know these characters, and feel all the richer for the encounter.
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.
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A MAN'S GOTTA DO (M)
CAST: John Howard, Rebecca Frith, Alyssa McClelland, Gyton Grantley,
PRODUCER: John Winter
DIRECTOR: Chris Kennedy
SCRIPT: Chris Kennedy
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Kim Batterham
EDITOR: Emma Hay
MUSIC: Peter Best
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Elizabeth Mary Moore
RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hopscotch
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 4, 2004
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: 21st Century Pictures Video
VIDEO RELEASE: April 27, 2005