A failure in the delivery


All Men Are Liars
Hoyts Cinemas
Reviewed by Kath Gelber and Lou Stanley

You can't help but wonder why the producers have put so much marketing money into such a mediocre film. The exit from the preview screening we attended was telling — silence, averted gazes. None of that jittery excitement you get when the punters are pleased with the offerings.

All Men Are Liars is a film to be missed. In an attempt at comedy, it tells the story of a family in a far north Queensland sugar town. When Barry sells his wife's piano for $120, she leaves him. Their enterprising son, Mick, in a bid to earn the money to get the piano and hence his mother back, dresses as a girl to get a gig in an all-girl band that has hit town for the weekend. The band's lead singer falls for Mick, believing s/he is Michelle.

Technically, the film is frustratingly poor — the number of times the sound track missed the visuals entirely was too many to count on one hand. Its cinematography is boring. The setting, a sugar cane town, provided ample opportunity for a wide screen to be used to its full advantage. Instead, the picture is little more than a stretched out TV screen.

The script attempts to be witty; there were roughly half a dozen times we laughed out loud. But more often, it jarred. A yobbo sugar cane worker who discovers Mick's secret tells him, "If I have to have therapy for this, you are going to pay for it". Where did that come from?

On the positive side, Toni Pearen does a good job with her role as the lead singer, as does David Price playing Mick/Michelle, an awkward, "different" 17-year-old. John Jarratt, as the boorish, insensitive father, also fits the part. Many of the other characters, however, are miscast and/or weakly played.

The plot is predictable from beginning to end. The scene in which Michelle reveals s/he is Mick is a straight-out copy of the better-done scene in Tootsie.

There are few redeeming features to this film. Moreover, it deserves criticism for more than its poor character development, weak script and predictable plot. All Men Are Liars is overtly homophobic.

A couple of members of the all-girl band are lesbians. In a bid to add to the lagging humour of the film, every clich‚ and negative stereotype in the book is used as a gag: lesbians try to seduce straight women; lesbians are even prone to sexually harassing straight women; and when lesbians want just casual sex, they do it with men. The "humour" surrounding the young yobbo who falls for Michelle and then realises he is Mick is uncritically homophobic as well.

Unlike other films of its genre which deal humorously and sensitively with issues of homophobia, Liars does neither. It's a long time since we have disliked a film as much as this. It could have been so much better: the concept was OK, but it failed miserably in the delivery.