Film review: Pork Pie

by David Larsen / 26 January, 2017

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Who decided we needed or wanted a remake of Goodbye Pork Pie? The 1981 original mattered in 1981, because it was part of the wave of films that showed New Zealanders it was okay to like our own films.

It’s not the Geoff Murphy film I’d go out of my way to rewatch today. (That would be The Quiet Earth, followed by Utu.)

Despite its efforts to seem up to date and right-thinking, the remake retains a lot of the original’s ingrained sexism. It also makes some bizarre calls on how far audiences are liable to suspend their disbelief; even in a lightweight popcorn movie, when a car catches fire on a petrol station forecourt, you’d expect people to be mildly alarmed.

So I was surprised, a little more than halfway through the new film, to notice that I’d quietly slipped over the line from irritated non-enjoyment to really quite liking the characters and the story. Any film gets better when James Rolleston is in it, and although I started out finding Dean O’Gorman’s hapless man-boy character a lot less charming than the film seemed to expect, O’Gorman is very hard to dislike for long.

Also, there’s a winning simplicity to the concept — a cat-and-mouse car chase running most of the length of New Zealand, all so one of our heroes can apologise to the woman he’s wronged. This is not the must-watch piece of nostalgic Kiwiana its marketing would like you to expect. But despite its weaknesses, it ends up being quite an easy film to like.

Directed by Matt Murphy. Opens February 2

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