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The Ad

by Olax

Reviews

One of my favourites of the evening! While it was initially a little tough to sit through, the intentionally awkward acting really pays off in the end. The final conversation on the deck felt a little awkward too, but it comes together nicely with the commentary of the rugby match and ends up with a very satisfying and entertaining finished product!

Starring the 48 Hours legend himself James Kupa! Great to see this man giving a fantastic performance as a stuttering former All Black struggling with his Fujiji-Plex Heat Pump lines much to the chagrin of his ad crew who have only paid for his services for an hour.

I found this thoroughly entertaining with a beautiful gradient to the pacing of proceedings, and a script that produced some genuinely quality comedy such as comments on Richie McNugget's height and the red mist trauma that his previous failures caused him.

My main issue with the film was the plain location of the house/apartment, BUT I actually think this worked because it was filling in as a film set and covered itself well in this regard.

Also nullifying this was the camerawork which I marked as "clean". Whoever was your DOP had a superb control of depth of field, and everything was razor sharp which is always a big plus to see.

Whilst I have commended James at the start of the review, I must say the entire crew were on fire with their roles with the director matching him with her fantastic screen presence and determination to get the job done. Clear cut and defined, they presented a stressed collective very well, meaning that the resolution was particularly satisfying as I felt it worked as a strong metaphor for working together as a team. Film within a Film. Sports. Invisible. Etc. Put it in the onion bag, this was a goodie.

Story: 4/5
Technical: 4/5
Elements: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Olax have been toiling away year after year ever since the bizarre, vibey party film debut (which broke the brain of at least one judge that year), achieving various flavours of weirdness (and comprehensibility) along the way. This year they went for a big ol' crowdpleaser, and central to the crowd's pleasure is Chess Club hero James Kupa, relocated to Christchurch and adding a third major centre to his 48hours tour of benevolent domination. (Disclaimer: I am friends with James, as New Zealand is small, so my effusive praise may be taken with a grain of salt. I am, however, still right.)

Kupa plays washed-up former All Black Richie McNuggets, tainted by a disastrous play in a big, uh, sports-game final of some sort, doing a job of presenting a heat pump ad with all the success of a drunk and sleep-deprived Orson Welles doing a champagne commercial. The crew grows more and more stressed and restless, until the director springs some warned-against sports psychology and he nails the ad. Not much to the story, but the central performance is both hilarious, as he trips over words in fantastically creative fashion, and rousing, as he finally gets it right and the audience goes wild, at the heat clapping along with a rather impressed character.

My issues with the film stem from the big plot turn: while signposted earlier with some dropped-in dialogue, the actual execution of the turn towards quality comes through a bit suddenly, and it doesn't exactly make sense why appealing to McNuggets' PTSD and shame would bring him to match fitness, so to speak. Maybe the intention is that he sees the ad as an opportunity to right his prior wrong, but that doesn't quite come through onscreen. I also keep asking myself how strong the film is outside the barnstorming performance that anchors it, and ultimately the story is very slight (McNuggets fails to do the ad repeatedly, then succeeds).

But the performance is what you remember, and hoo boy, it's a good one. An intensely likeable film that gets in, does its thing, and gets out, and certain to do well come finals night. Best Performance is Kupa's to lose, if you ask me (and that's against some stiff competition).

An impressive entry, all the more impressive for its large-ish cast to be in one place at the same time, contributing to an overall atmosphere of busy-ness without being overly chaotic. The actors were all bringing their A-game too, vital to a film that centres around one character who's bad at acting. And then the best at acting! It takes a fair bit of talent to sell both extremes so well. The payoff with the final performance of the ad (which I was not expecting to be included but in hindsight of course it had to be) was brilliant, and got a big reaction from the audience at Little Andromeda. Even though it took me a while to get onboard with the story near the beginning, it became one of those films where you're having too much fun to think about analysing it technically, so I've got no more criticisms to add here.

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