Director: Rob Sitch.
Cast: Josh Lawson, Rachael Taylor, Daniel Henshall, Felicity Ward, Christian Clark, Lachy Hulme.
THE Working Dog crew have a large legacy to live up to - their two previous films are the classics The Dish and The Castle.
And with the comparatively subdued launch of their latest effort, you'd be forgiven for thinking they'd either sullied their good name or missed the mark here.
But don't be fooled. Any Questions For Ben? may not live up to their high standards, but it is still a charming yet subdued comedy about one man's search for meaning in his life.
Ben (Lawson) is 27 and seemingly has it all - a cool apartment in Melbourne, a high-paying job, a gorgeous girl.
However all these things are transient in Ben's life. The apartments last less than a year, the jobs last six months, and the girls last three months (if that).
And lately his jet-setting, bed-hopping lifestyle has been leaving him feeling weird, as if something's missing. But what?
If all that sounds like a flimsy excuse for a plot, you're right. Any Questions For Ben? is a tad plotless, but you could argue that's a reflection of Lawson's character - Ben is equally directionless, moving only in well-groomed circles, spinning from one girl/job/apartment to the next. He's going nowhere, but stylishly.
Which is kind of what this film does. It's far from perfect, but it's damned funny. It's also surprisingly insightful and distinctly Australian without being overtly ocker. Ben's relationships with his dad (Rob Carlton) and his lovable lunk of a best mate Andy (Clark) are well-studied examples of typically Aussie male interactions, while the strange "quarter-life crisis" that kicks in for many around age 27 is well displayed.
Obviously the Working Dog crew picked up on Lawson's hitherto untapped comedic talents through their show Thank God You're Here, where he gave unhinged but humourous improvisations that hinted at a knack for timely delivery, and he's excellent here in his delivery of the former D-Gen members' script.
There's some fat that could be trimmed. As good as Lachy Hulme's character Sam is, he's ultimately superfluous, and there is maybe one fling too many for Ben. The film also grinds to a strange halt halfway through. After having his epiphany - spurred by no one having any questions for him at a careers' night - things seem to just coast along for a painful amount of time before he acknowledges/does anything about it. A more compressed script would have helped.
This plotting hiccup is a shame, because the rest of the script is razor sharp. The joke's are delivered subtly but impeccably, with the style the Working Dog team have mastered with The Hollowmen and Frontline.
It won't be held in the same regard as The Dish and The Castle but it's easily the funniest Aussie film since Kenny.