"There's something insipidly cliched about the characters."
The name Rolf De Heer (Bad Boy Bubby) doesn't bring to mind a film full of caricatures touting itself as a cappuccino comedy. Then again, just because he takes on executive producer duties doesn't mean his darkly poignant vision would be seen in this frothy feature debut from cinematographer Clark.So what's with the cappuccino? Spank! is set in Adelaide's restaurant district where the obnoxious Nick and the under-the-thumb Vinny are hatching a plan to start their own café. When their old friend Paulie (Mammone) returns from a stint at an Italian monastery, he's soon enlisted to help them open the business, but first they must win over Rocky (Poletto), a spoilt rich kid who takes his name way too seriously.
When he's not shadow boxing, hanging out with his Heckel and Jeckyl cronies, and putting his girlfriend Tina in her place, Rocky is abusing his newly acquired power of attorney over his father's real estate business. So when he tells the boys he'll find them a prime position, he's going to pull every stupid trick in the book to get what he wants.
There's something insipidly cliched about the colourful characters in the film. Nick and Rocky are your typical patriarchal wogboys, Vinny's a mummy's boy, Tina's a handbag, and even Paulie is your stereotypical nice guy. Then there's the fringe characters, such as the gay waiter, the Vietnamese restaurant owners, and the wog parents. It's mostly forgivable, because the film doesn't aspire to social comment but satire.
Even though Poletto (Mr Nice Guy) gets top billing, it's actually Mammone (Streetfighter) who enjoys the majority of screen time. His relationship with Tina mightn't cut the mustard but there's no denying his screen magnetism. If it wasn't for him, Spank! would have been an inferior episode of Fast Forward, or worse Dags.As it is, there's plenty on offer for Adelaide audiences, plus something for most punters when it lands on video. ---Dov Kornits