Director: Matt Murphy
Screenwriter: Matt Murphy
Runtime: 105 mins
Australian release date: 4 May 2017
Previewed at: Roadshow Theatrette, Pyrmont, Sydney on 26 April 2017
It takes a brave man to remake one of NZ’s most successful and fondly remembered films, the 1980-made Goodbye Pork Pie.
It takes an even braver one to make it your directorial feature debut, especially when your dear old dad was the creative force behind the original version. Matt Murphy has managed it though, successfully bringing his Pork Pie to 21st century viewers. “Goodbye Pork Pie was an extremely bold and entertaining piece of Kiwi film making,” says Murphy the younger. “It defined a time and place for many Kiwis but it’s not the same movie updated. It’s not meant to be. The times are not the same. It’s a new film, borrowing from and adapting that legend for a 2017 audience. I’ve gone to huge lengths to honour Dad’s [Geoff Murphy] original film, but I’ve pushed as much, if not more, to make a movie that appeals and stands on its own merits.” And that he’s done, in spades.
When down-on-his-luck writer Jon (Dean O’Gorman) is forced to hitchhike to Invercargill in the far south of NZ’s South Island, he’s picked up by a young Maori guy, Luke (James Rolleston), in a bright yellow Mini Cooper S. Luke explains that it’s his mum’s car but when they’re pulled over by a motorcycle cop, Jon quickly realises that Luke’s explanation is ‘fake news,’ something we viewers already know from the spectacular opening scenes of Pork Pie.
At a fast-food joint on the journey south they meet Keira (Ashleigh Cummings), a vegan activist who’s had enough of trying to convert the meat-heads she slings burgers to, and before you can say “whopper with cheese” she’s piling through the car window. This is the set-up for what becomes a kind of upside-down road-cum-chase movie, in which the joke is that usually nobody wants to go to Invercargill, they all want to head the other way, north to Wellington or Auckland. The town is one of the cloudiest and windiest in NZ, but Jon has his reasons: he’s stuffed up badly with the love of his life and needs to make amends.
Pork Pie is highly entertaining and has great heart. Murphy’s script makes us care for all three protagonists and the three leads are all excellent: O’Gorman nails Jon’s charming insouciance; Rolleston has already proven he’s a major star in films like Boy and The Dark Horse, and Cummings is a delight as the passionate Keira. Judging by this effort, Matt Murphy is destined to be as successful as his father, a real chip off the old block.