Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Comedy,Drama Movie Review of ‘Save Your Legs!’ (2013)

Movie Review of ‘Save Your Legs!’ (2013)

Despite the involvement of a quality cast, 2013’s Save Your Legs! is a strictly ordinary Australian dramedy that falls short of fulfilling its potential. Scripted by Aussie all-rounder Brendan Cowell, who also stars, the film is based on the exploits of a lowly ranked cricket club who toured India in 2001. The tour was actually the subject of a 2005 documentary also called Save Your Legs, directed by Boyd Hicklin who returned to helm this feature-length cinematic adaptation. The resultant picture is more or less a mix-up of Dodgeball and The Hangover, with traces of Bollywood flavour and midlife crisis angst for good measure. It’s a watchable tale of mateship that works from time to time, but for the most part it proceeds at an uneven pace, and the narrative is not quite as satisfying as it wants to be.

A 30-something cricket enthusiast, Edward “Teddy” Brown (Stephen Curry) is something of a no-hoper, living in his best friend’s garage in the suburbs of Melbourne whilst nursing an obsession with legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. On weekends, Teddy is president of the Abbotsfield Anglers Cricket Club, playing the game with close friend Rick (Brendan Cowell) and the arrogant Stavros (Damon Gameau). But things are changing, and Teddy wants the opportunity for his team to go big. An opportunity presents itself when local sponsor Sanjeet (Darshan Jariwala) agrees to send the Anglers overseas to compete in a tournament in India. Teddy jumps at the chance, but the team of misfits need to raise their game.

The narrative is not quite as cut-and-dried as it seems. In Hollywood, the Anglers would rise to the occasion at the right time and win the tournament, but Save Your Legs! avoids that type of ending. It’s a clever twist on the part of screenwriter Cowell, but alas it does not quite work, and never quite snowballs into a completely satisfying film in spite of the rousing climax. Perhaps this is because Save Your Legs! is established as a light-hearted dramedy, hence it feels a tad uncomfortable when things start to go south for the squad; the tonal change is jarring. Moreover, the depressing stuff is too saggy and heavy-handed, begging for a zippier touch. Most glaringly, while Cowell does avoid many of the more predictable staples of the underdog genre, he does succumb to a number of other clichés that are a lot less fun and satisfying. It also ends with a tacky last-minute Bollywood dance number, because India.

Despite the attempts at maturity, the film spotlights a fairly clichéd roster of sports film characters, including a love interest for Teddy that feels forced and useless. Out of the characters, the best is Colin (Darren Gilshenan), the superbly nerdy cricketer obsessed with statistics. Gilshenan is extremely amusing in the role, albeit a bit underused. In spite of the clichéd characters, the rest of the ensemble do place forth good work, led by Curry who’s nicely charismatic as the club’s president. Cowell (Beneath Hill 60) is also good as the boozy team captain, but he’s shown up by Gameau as the preening master batsman.

Save Your Legs! was lensed on location in India, hence it’s permeated with an exotic flavour and there’s gorgeous scenery aplenty, captured with proficiency by Hicklin and cinematographer Mark Wareham. The cricket action looks nice for the most part, though Hicklin immediately leans on montages whenever a match kicks off, eliminating all sense of tension. See, the matches are meant to feel substantial because we’re waiting for the pivotal moment in which the Anglers get their shit together, but montages treat everything too lightly. It’s not that montages are necessarily bad, it’s that Hicklin should ease into them more; it would be more effective to set the tone by showing the first few overs in real-time before getting into the montage. This aside, Save Your Legs! packs a few nice laughs, though the picture is nowhere near as funny as one would probably hope.

Certainly, Save Your Legs! is marred by multiple flaws, but it’s not an entirely unappealing motion picture. Tonal inconsistencies and ham-fisted dramatic scenes aside, the movie comes alive from time to time, with handsome production values and a variety of strong performances that almost compensate for the otherwise flat pacing. It’s definitely worth a watch, especially for avid cricket fans and consumers of Australian cinema.

5.9/10

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