In a desperate bid to wind back the clock and cling to his childhood dreams, Teddy (Stephen Curry) leads his best mates and their cricket club on an tour of India.
Australian movies based around sporting themes often are problematic for audiences because unless you are a fan of the particular sport, whether it’s horse racing (The Cup), skating (Deck Dogz), amateur rugby league (Footy Legends) or Aussie Rules bush football (Blinder), the milieu can hold little interest.
the plot is predictable and the dialogue is prosaic
So it is with Save Your Legs!, a slight, fitfully engaging bromantic comedy about a bunch of suburban cricketers who fulfil their dream of playing in India. True, you don’t have to be a fan of the game played by 22 flannelled fools, as G. B. Shaw once famously described the sport, to appreciate the nuances of the film scripted by Brendan Cowell.
But many of the characters are clichés, the plot is predictable and the dialogue is prosaic, with few belly laughs. In cricket parlance, the direction by first-timer Boyd Hicklin scores few boundaries.
Suburban and backyard cricketers, of whom, granted, there are hundreds of thousands, may see something of themselves and their aspirations to play on a grander stage in this tale of male bonding. Females are likely to be unenthused, notwithstanding the Australian women’s team’s recent world championship victory.
The release date near the end of the Australian cricket season may seem less than opportune for a film that premiered at last year’s Melbourne International Film Festival.
Distributor Madman Entertainment initially wanted to launch on January 24 but exhibitors had committed their prime locations to three high-profile films that debuted that day – Django Unchained, The Impossible and The Guilt Trip, plus previews of Silver Linings Playbook – hence the decision to delay the release until February 28.
The movie was inspired by the true story of the lowly-ranked Melbourne amateur team Abbotsford Anglers when they toured India in 2001, as chronicled in Hicklin’s 2005
documentary Save Your Legs.
Stephen Curry plays the Anglers club president Teddy Brown, a 35-year-old under-achiever who worships Sachin Tendulkar and whose life revolves around the game and his cricketing mates.
His best buddies are wealthy married guy Stav (Damon Gameau) and Rick (Cowell), a knockabout working class bloke who’s about to become a dad. Improbably given that the team is third-rate, Teddy manages to persuade local businessman Sanjeet (Darshan V. Jariwala) to sponsor their trip to India where they’ll compete in a tournament.
A tame and totally unsurprisingly romantic subplot revolves around Sanjeet’s hot-looking daughter Anjali (Pallavi Sharda), who accompanies the Anglers on their travels around the sub-Continent, Ted and insufferably smarmy hunk Tusshar Rai (Sid Makkar).
Some of the gags seek to exploit the unsophisticated Aussies’ efforts to come to grips with the local culture and food (spare us the 'sharting' jokes!), generating rather less humour and spark than the elderly Brits’ experiences in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
Curry, Cowell and Gameau are likable enough as the bromantic trio. Curry has the most interesting role as Ted is forced finally to act his age and take some responsibility for his life. Darren Gilshenan as their statistics-obsessed teammate Colin registers effectively but most of the other guys are nondescript, a waste of the talents of David Lyons and Brenton Thwaites.
A Bollywood-style song-and-dance number is as about as corny as the rest of the shenanigans. Technically, the film is proficient, most notably Mark Wareham's cinematography, but this can’t disguise the thinness of the plot or avoid the conclusion that here is yet another Australian movie that has the tone, sensibility and modest accomplishment of a telemovie.