Reviewed By Stephen Groenewegen
Posted 09/09/03 13:47:09

"The Beatles Breakfast Club"
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

Secrets is an Australian teen comedy from 1992, a cross between 1980s Brat Packer The Breakfast Club and Bob Zemeckisí I Wanna Hold Your Hand. During the Beatlesí visit to Melbourne in the mid-1960s, 5 teenagers are trapped in the basement of the Southern Cross Hotel where the band is staying.

Emily (Beth Champion) is a shy and sensible country girl who dotes on John Lennon. Noah Taylorís Randolf dresses like George Harrison and affects a dodgy Liverpool accent. Catholic girl Didi (Dannii Minogue) wears an awful lot of make-up and spends most of her time writing love letters to Paul McCartney. Vicki (Willa OíNeill) is a hairdresserís assistant who thinks Ringo Starr is the best. The odd one out is the leather-jacketed Danny (Malcolm Kennard) who doesnít go for Pete Best but is a grease-head rocker that despises The Beatles and worships Elvis instead.

That each character favours a different Beatle hints at the schematic nature of Jan Sardiís (Shine) screenplay. Itís obvious from the genre that each characterís persona is going to crumble as they share secrets and reveal their true selves. Director Michael Pattinson (Moving Out, Street Hero) canít do much to make this material surprising or more than intermittently entertaining. Hindered by a low budget, the mix of archival and recreated footage of Beatle-inspired hysteria that bookends the film is clumsy.

The performances are mixed. Dannii Minogue has a hard time selling her characterís secret. You have to see it to believe it. Noah Taylor is the most experienced and least timid actor of the bunch; characteristically eccentric, he jumps at the opportunity to make this lively loser something distinct from his previous introverted teenage roles. OíNeill shows some spunk as Vicki.

Pattinson secured a surprising number of Beatles songs for the soundtrack, and Dave Dobbyn fills in the gaps with some respectful instrumental interpretations. Judging by the casting of soap opera stars and the writing, Secrets was squarely aimed at a teenage audience. Its muted impact on release suggests that Australian teenagers in 1992 perhaps cared less for a 25 year-old moment of pop history than the filmmakers suspected.

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