Review : Two Little Boys
Two Little Boys brings a couple of New Zealand’s most abundant native resources to the big screen: beautiful scenery and idiot bogans. Within the first ten minutes a dead tourist bleeds out onscreen, ensuring that this particular road trip is not going to be mistaken with The Hobbit. Instead it’s a Vegemite-dark comedy about a friendship that’s turned rancid.
Set in the lower half of the South Island in the early 90s, it’s unlikely to do as much for the New Zealand Tourism Board as Lord of the Rings did. But fans of Peter Jackson’s earlier, grottier horror flicks will be familiar with the New Zealand psyche’s love of murky corners.
Writer/director team the Sarkies brothers have already gone down nasty routes in previous work like the cult stoner slasher Scarfies. Their new film is an exploration of the dodgy bro-ship between characters whose development is so arrested that it’s practically de-evolved.
Flight of the Conchord’s cherub-faced Bret McKenzie plays hapless drongo Nige, the estranged best friend of Deano (Hamish Blake). Deano and Nige have been BFFs and flatmates for years, forming a co-dependent bond that Nige has recently begun to test. This apparent disloyalty to Deano has had him thrown out of their scuzzy flat and threatened with a toasted sandwich maker. His problems only escalate after an unfortunate collision between a mince pie, a ginger cat, his car and a Norwegian backpacker. Stuck with a corpse to dispose of, Nige runs back to Deano.
Desperate times have rarely called for such desperate measures. Deano’s ferocious sense of loyalty means that he’ll do anything for his mate, but their combined lack of IQ points makes their plan crumble almost immediately. In a substantially less-than-genius move, the two of them end up taking Gav (Maaka Pohatu), Nige’s one sane friend, on an ill-fated tour of the scenic Southland coast. Gav is a peacenik philosopher who works as a security guard by day but craves greater communion with nature. But Deano’s diseased idea of brotherhood contaminates an already lousy plan. He is determined to bind a traumatised Nige to him and get rid of Gav. Then there’s the dead Scandinavian to deal with.
Tragedy reduces Nige to a trembling wreck, all exposed teeth and quivering mullet. In contrast, Blake’s Deano has the swollen features of a be-permed Russell Crowe after a seven-day bender. Pohatu is great as an earthy counterpoint to Deano’s morbid friendship, and the countryside looks wonderful as classic nostalgic tunes play over the radio. The result is something like an antipodean Fargo with more dick jokes. It’s a queasy and often funny portrait of a bromance gone bad, and a warning to lairy boofheads everywhere: Avoid any prospective Deanos who come bearing gifts of bloody teeth and eternal fidelity.