THE MULE [2014]

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Directed by Tony Mahony, Angus Sampson, Written By Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson and Jaime Browne

Starring: Hugo Weaving, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Geoff Morrell, Georgina Haig, Ewen Leslie, John Noble and Noni Hazlehurst

I feel I must preface this by saying this is one the most Australian movies I have ever seen. “Vegemite” can be heard from the radio at one point, as well as the old commercial jingle, “Football, meat pies, Kangaroos and Holden Cars!” This movie is as Australian as throwing a few snags on the barbie during a summer heatwave, a Coopers bottle of beer in one hand and a spatula in the other – to flip the meat but also to swat at the constant attack of flies making home on your back.

The plot to me seems like a big piss-take of lesser poo-fart-wee joke-based movies by making an entire movie about a man trying not to take a shit. Which, let’s face it, is funny. But there is a reason for this predicament, suggested rather obviously by the title of the movie. And thankfully, the poo jokes aren’t here in big numbers at all. In fact, given the premise of the movie, the humour is wonderfully fresh; even the potty-humour is done here with a twist, one scene especially will have you writhing in your seat uncomfortably.

This was one of the funnier movies I have seen this year, and I found the humour refreshing after being thoroughly underwhelmed by most ‘comedies’ that have been released this year. For instance, an Asian character’s name seems to be ‘Phuk’, pronounced ‘Fook’, prompting characters to say ‘Fuck Fuck!” in frustration and mispronunciation, which was a nice little nugget of humour – of which there are many. Especially in the dialogue – Hugo Weaving especially was hysterical almost every time he opened his mouth. A little exaggerated admittedly, but not far from the truth at all. Another very cleverly written scene involved Weaving’s character slowly deflating a balloon to play with the ‘mule’ mentally… I am chuckling just writing about it. I don’t know how this humour goes down abroad, but fuck me upside-down, almost every confrontation was hilarious and filled with typical Australian expletives and phrases. The best part about this is, as mentioned, it is only slightly exaggerated – that is how we talk, aye sugur tits?

The racism towards anyone who isn’t white is unfortunately also accurately portrayed. We are not a particularly enlightened country down here. This movie also includes underworld type figures of Australia in realistic fashion – including said racist tendencies. Are you easily offended? Then this might be one to avoid, as you’ll hear a large serving of racial slurs throughout – another accurately captured aspect of our wonderfully rough-around-the-edges country. Oh, and there is the poo also. Or a lack thereof to be more accurate.

Hugo Weaving’s character stands out from the rest; flawless and consistently sleazy, while the motives of his partner match Weaving’s personality. This a perfect, humourous depiction of what Aussie coppers are like. This aspect is again only slightly exaggerated, coppers do think that highly of themselves, they always make false threats they know themselves are bullshit constantly, yet there is still a definite line not to cross. These aspects and more of the Australian police are sent up in hilarious fashion, especially for someone who has had multiple dealings with arrogant, dickhead cops, and through no fault of my own I must add. In fact, for the first time I feel the need to add an image to give you more of an idea of what I am talking about…

mule-the-001The badge of the Australian copper. Nooo, the one to the left, boxhead.

The movie also brought up interesting situations revolving around what comes first: family or money? Or more to the point, what one is willing to go through just for some extra dough. It also keeps you guessing, thanks in part to the simple Raymond, where a bit of popularity and attention is enough to have him agree to a plan they he knows he shouldn’t be a part of. You genuinely feel sorry for the guy. He doesn’t know who his friends are and doesn’t seem to stir when the subject of verbal barbs. All this social confusion is the life of many people with Asperger’s syndrome…. I don’t know if that was what the writers were going for, but having worked with and been friends with many folk with Asperger’s, Raymond was a spitting image, even more so with his blunt social personality. As the final act plays out, this psychological trait is further expanded on as his mental state starts to slide downhill. Experiencing surreal, nightmarish visions while consistently being strongly threatened, Raymond becomes a different person for a flash, suddenly acting in a way that is completely out of step with the person he is. This is again familiar behaviour to me, but I may be simply over thinking. Stress, necessity; when such emotions are strong enough they can lead any man to do things he would normally never think of.

I can’t pretend that this is a deep story, as it most certainly is not, but fuck it is funny, and it gets quite intense as bursts of violence suddenly come about in the final act. I’m curious to see how this unabashed Aussie humour goes down overseas, as unlike other comedies from our Land Down Under such as The Little Death and The Infinite Man, this is available online on demand. Perhaps this is the way to go for our movie industry, as so many titles have been released this year yet it seems The Rover and The Babadook are the only films that anyone has heard of, or has been able to watch. Time will tell, but with absolutely no help from our government or our cinemas, this could be the future of the Australian movie industry.

Wrap it up already: The humour and the colourful characters throughout make the literal joke of a plot not such a noticeable flaw. Angus Sampson is restrained considerably compared to most of his past work on Aussie TV, and nails playing what I think is a person with Asperger’s; someone who doesn’t understand social situations or more importantly, who to be loyal to. When looking at it like that, you could say that by movie’s end he has learned an important lesson about himself and how to live. But that is how I saw it, and I’m rather insane. 🙂

4/5

written by the epilepticmoondancer