Pork Pie (2017)
It’s hard not to roll your eyes at the spate of dire movie remakes and ‘reimaginings’ churned out by Hollywood. Often these new versions of sometimes iconic films are pale imitations of the originals, gouging the much-loved source material for a cash grab.
The makers of Pork Pie, however, couldn’t be accused of not having complete reverence for the original film on which their homage is based.
Directed by Matt Murphy, Pork Pie is a reworking of cult New Zealand film Goodbye Pork Pie, which helped kick-start that country’s film industry. The original 1980 film was directed by Murphy’s father, Geoff Murphy, who would later make the Kiwi classic The Quiet Earth (1985) and 1990s Hollywood action fare Under Siege 2, Young Guns 2 and Freejack.
In Pork Pie, Luke (James Rolleston) picks up hitchhiker Jon (Dean O’Gorman), an out-of-luck novelist who is having a bad day that is compounding a few rough months. Jon wants to win back the love of his life, Susie (Antonia Prebble), by surprising her at a friend’s wedding.
Jon needs a ride to Wellington; Luke is in trouble with the law (and worse) and wants to escape from Auckland. So starts a road trip in a souped-up Mini car and a burgeoning friendship between the pair, both trying to wipe the slate clean.
Along the way they meet feisty Keira (Ashleigh Cummings), a subversive animal activist trying to promote her ‘meat is murder’ views from within a fast-food burger shop.
One humorously catastrophic event leads to another. After the trio sets its sights on reaching Invercargill, at the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island, they fall awry of the law. Dubbed the ‘Blondini Gang’ by the media, Jon, Luke and Keira’s bond – and Jon’s bid to reach his ex – is threatened.
There is much to like in Pork Pie. There’s plenty of humour and some decent laughs, inventive set pieces, and the kinetic car chases through city centres, on train platforms and in scenic country locales – the best use of Mini cars since The Italian Job – are a treat.
While there’s car chases a-plenty (the film opens with a cleverly filmed chase sequence across the top of vehicles), thankfully they are without the ‘furious’ strong-arm bravura that permeates other recent films of this type.
While the action sequences in Pork Pie are good, it’s the natural chemistry between the three lead actors equates to a fun 100 minutes in the cinema.
Rolleston, the now grown-up star of hit 2010 New Zealand film Boy, gives a subtle and quietly spoken performance, while Cummings is engaging. Standout star O’Gorman spans the range of emotions wonderfully, thanks to director Murphy imbuing his film with some pathos and heartfelt moments.
With music from iconic New Zealand musicians such as Lorde, Dave Dobbyn, Scribe and Tiki Taane, Pork Pie is another tasty Kiwi adventure-comedy that could build on the momentum for New Zealand film piqued by Hunt For the Wilderpeople.
Words by Lee Oliver