Led by Eric Bana, this low-budget Australian comedy was released during the actor’s step from one worth watching into fully blown Hollywood star.
A mild box-office success in Australia, The Nugget tells the story of the three road workers Lotto (Eric Bana), Wookie (Stephen Curry) and Sue (Dave O’Neil). The friends are ordinary guys who spend their weekends at an old mining site hoping to strike it rich. When their luck finally changes and the guys accidentally discover the world’s largest nugget of gold, everything changes.
The plot offers nothing complex for the audience to ponder, instead the story is as straightforward as the characters that fill it and it is all the better for it. A simple exploration of the strain massive amounts of money puts on a friendship that required none in the first place is all the movie needs to succeed.It doesn’t quite have the charm of The Castle, another low budget Australian comedy, but The Nugget does have its quirks and strong performances from stars of The Castle, Bana and Curry.
The film scrapes past the required level to be considered a successfully made comedy, the first film I have reviewed so far to do so. The relationship between the three friends is the key to this as, unlike Life’s a Trip , it is much more believable. I don’t know if it is because Australian culture and language is more similar to British life than American culture but I found the exchanges and mocking between friends much more naturalistic and entertaining than that of Life’s a Trip, even if there was a terrible and unnecessary reference to Battlefield Earth by the weakest actor of the trio, Dave O’Neil.
Something that has to be addressed is the continuing pattern of the DVD covers featuring actors in scenes or images that do not appear in the film itself. Life’s a Trip featured Ed Harris driving a car; Ed Harris is in the film for a single scene that does not involve a car. Cash shows Jean Reno and Jean Dujardin holding guns and makes them appear as enemies; both team up in the film and it is explicitly mentioned within the film that Reno’s character has no taste for violence, I think only one shot is fired.
The Nugget cover shows actress Belinda Emmett, who plays Cheryl, Lotto’s wife, in a bikini top despite the fact that there are no scenes in which she wears a bikini or in which a bikini would be an appropriate outfit. Most likely refitted to make the case look more marketable it is still a fairly irritating trend.
Back on topic: In spite of the ridiculous ending and the strange, unexplained omniscient narrator, The Nugget works well, is funny in places and has a solid supporting cast, most notably Vince Colosimo who starred with Bana in Chopper. After Chuck and Buck, the most enjoyable film I’ve reviewed so far.
Director : Bill Bennett