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WELCOME TO WOOP WOOP , AUSTRALIA , 1997 , MPAA Rating : R: Strong sexuality and language, and for some dr

Years ago I developed a mad crush on Rod Taylor. He starred in the George Pal version of H.G. Wellsí THE TIME MACHINE and even dressed in Victorian frippery and with his best front-parlor manners, the man had a rugged hunky kind of good looks and exuded prodigious, delectable amounts of testosterone. When I saw his name in the cast list of WELCOME TO WOOP WOOP, I confess my heart went pitter pat, even knowing that over thirty years had passed since Mr. Taylor traveled time in contraption that looked like a jumped-up easy chair. 


The good news is that even though heís predictably paunchier than in days gone by, and sags a bit here and there, he still has a gravitas that makes him a formidable screen presence as Daddy-O, the leader of a commune thatís turned its collective back on the rest of the world.  And heís still got a wicked twinkle in his eyes.  The bad news is, heís in a real stinker of a flick.


The premise here is that a New Yorker on the run from the mob and a girlfriend handcuffed to a corpse ends up in the desolate wastelands of Northern Australia.  This comely young man, played gamely by Jonathan Schaech, is then swept off his libidinous feet by an aggressive Aussie virgin only to find himself drugged and kidnapped to a remote commune called, you guessed it, Woop Woop.  A place populated by wanna-be quirky characters doing things like kidnapping strangers for the purposes of procreation and serving up kangaroo steak in a pineapple glaze.  He awakens in pigsty and, for reasons never adequately explained, his hair is moussed, creamed, and molded to resemble cockatoo feathers. In due course, he learns that heís married to the ex-virgin, and that no one is ever permitted to leave.  Theyíre off the map and like it that way.  When someone tries to leave, heís shot in the back and, I kid you not, turned into dog food.


MAD MAX meets the Japanese classic, WOMAN IN THE DUNES and a happy union it is not.  Does it want to be a savage comment on human nature?  Suspense thriller?  Screwball comedy?  Satire?  I canít tell and thatís not good.  The jokes, as such, fall flat and the element of danger is undercut by the lameness of the would-be comedy.  But worse, o so much worse, is each and every attempt at social commentary is so heavy handed that one wishes to engage them all in hand to hand combat to the death rather than see abg of them sputter to completion.


Oh Rod, weíll meet again, donít know where, donít know when, but I know itíll be in a better flick than WELCOME TO WOOP WOOP.

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