Goddess (PG) 1.5 stars
Laura Michelle Kelly, Ronan Keating, Magda Szubanski
DIRECTOR MARK LAMPRELL
REVIEW LUCY GIBSON
You’ll like this if you liked Mental, A Few Best Men, Any Questions for Ben?
My mum once advised me that if I couldn't say something nice about someone I shouldn't say it at all. Of course I would be lax in my duties as a film reviewer if I were to take heed of those words and wrap up my review of Mark Lamprell's kitchen sink musical "comedy" Goddess in the second paragraph.
It did, however, take some serious reflecting to pluck out the redeeming qualities in Lamprell's film about mother-of-two Elspeth Dickens (Laura Michelle Kelly) who dreams of being a singer despite being stuck in a remote farmhouse in Tasmania with her naughty twin boys. Based on the stage play Sinksongs - written and performed by Joanna Weinberg, who collaborated with Lamprell on the Goddess screenplay - the story goes that Elspeth sets up a web-cam to talk to her husband James (singer Ronan Keating) while he's away saving whales.
When she realises the camera could in fact be her passport to fame and fortune she begins performing musical numbers (including one raunchy routine on the kitchen table) and streams them on the internet.
Surprise, surprise she becomes a global "cyber sensation" - although there's no convincing evidence of this in the film, except for a montage of people from various ethnicities glued to their computers - and is flown to Sydney to meet high-flying advertising executive Cassandra Wolfe (Magda Szubanski), who is intent on making her "goddess" a star.
It's a nice enough premise and one that is quite plausible (well, a similar thing happened to Susan Boyle, didn't it?).
However, the spluttering pace of the film and the one-dimensional characters we are presented with make it hard for the audience to feel connected and, subsequently, to care how it all pans out.
We have no real idea about who Elspeth was before she became a mum except for a remark she makes to her husband about missing performing, so we struggle to feel the sense of excitement we should when she gets her big break.
(I also had an easier time believing Abraham Lincoln killed vampires on his way to abolishing slavery than I did a frustrated, but equally loving, mother would leave her children with a complete stranger while dad's away to fly off to the big smoke).
That said, Kelly and Keating do their best with the material they are given and there's no denying the two can sing. Keating is particularly charming when he's playing Mr Mum - and given a number of opportunities to show off his buff body that no doubt won't harm his future acting career. Hugo Johnstone-Burt also brings some humour to the piece as Cassandra's assistant, Ralph, and while her dialogue is riddled with cliches, Szubanski too manages to garner a few laughs.
However, there's really nothing funny about the insipid musical numbers - including one particularly ghastly routine, which sees a bunch of mums in pink cowboy boots line dancing with their strollers. I kid you not.
Last year, audiences across the world embraced the feel-good Australian musical The Sapphires. Sadly, there's not much to make a song and dance about this time.