Swinging Safari

By Angie Raphael

3.5 stars

This film celebrates the 1970s culture with a healthy level of nostalgia and is one of the better Australian comedies released in recent years. Swinging Safari is set in a cul-de-sac where three families spend their weekends at the beach and having dinner parties. Teenager Jeff Marsh (Atticus Robb) is a budding filmmaker and gets his neighbourhood friends to help out with his productions, but their simple existence is one day rocked when a whale beaches itself onshore. Swinging Safari is a coming of age story but the plot needed further development. The highlights come from Jeff’s short films that include daredevil stunts and bloody horror scenes. Jeff's awkward romance with his sensitive neighbour Melly Jones (Darcey Wilson) is also sweet. The three sets of eccentric and sexually frustrated parents are played by an impressive cast including Guy Pearce, Kylie Minogue, Radha Mitchell, Julian Mahon, Asher Keddie and Jeremy Sims. They each play characters who are self-involved in different ways and completely oblivious to what their children are getting up to when they are distracted. Beyond the exquisite 1970s hair and fashion, the film also has a stream of references to the decade including baby oil, KFC, Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedias, polyester and boxed wine. Writer/director Stephan Elliott has created a film that is at times quite outrageous in its humour, but he expertly captures the stereotypical Aussie irreverence and pushes the boundaries. Children of the 1970s will likely get the greatest enjoyment out of Swinging Safari.