A warning: spoilers follow.
Another great collaboration between writer David Parker and director Nadia Tass, this uniquely Australian rom-com was released in 1990 with the tagline "They've been taken for a ride by a used car dealer. Now they're taking him for a ride!" Danny Clark (Ben Mendelsohn) is a Jaguar enthusiast who would like nothing more than a Jaguar XJ6, and the lovely Joanna Johnson (Claudia Karvan). His 18th birthday is less than thrilling as he receives his parents' old Nissan Cedric. Upon finally asking Joanna out, and promising to pick her up in a Jaguar, he trades in the Cedric to Gordon Farkas (Steve Bisley), a dodgy used-car dealer who drives his own Jag. During the date, Danny's Jag's motor breaks down and leaves him stranded. With the help of Vangeli (Angelo D'Angelo) and Mark (Damon Herriman) he exacts revenge on Farkas, and attempts to win Joanna's heart back.
"You lookin' or dreamin'?" Danny's enthusiasm for Jaguars matches that of Malcolm's enthusiasm for trams, in the film of the same name. Indeed, both were written by Parker and directed by Tass, both are iconic Australian films set and shot in Melbourne, and both are hilarious. In fact, as a little easter egg for the eagle-eyed, at one point in The Big Steal a TV screen shows the film Malcolm. They're both riotously funny films, yet while Malcolm goes for whimsy, The Big Steal goes instead for a bit of action, with a few car chase scenes involved. There's also a better display of Australiana in this film - the "Aboriginal's car", Jaguars (from the UK), mud wrestling (from the US), Vangeli (from Greece), and Danny's parents (also from the UK)... Australians are mongrels.
"'Jinxed'! That's the word I could have used in Scrabble! It has a J and an X!" Danny's eccentric parents have their moments in the film, as well. At one point, Desmond (Marshall Napier) shows his displeasure at finding out Danny had forged his signature by simply giving a nod and a smile. Nicer people are a rare find. It is interesting to point out that Desmond Johnson - Joanna's dad, not to be confused with Danny's father Desmond Clark - at one point comes calling at the Clarks' home, and leaves some time later to find that his car has been stolen. Subsequently, Desmond Clark and Danny's mum Edith don't seem to show that they care about it. Furthermore, at the same time as Desmond Johnson shows up, Farkas also arrives and is left outside as Danny's parents turn their full attention to Desmond Johnson and leave Farkas outside, confused. This could show that, despite their eccentricities, they have a very keen sense of what's going on, and can easily tell the "good" people from the "bad" people. (That being said, they are parents, and we all know that our parents know everything...
"I think Mark's been kidnapped." Though this is a rom-com, there are several action-esque sequences in the film, including several car chases, one of which involves a caravan. It's all in good fun as the last car-chase sequence sees Danny and Joanna driving off with the caravan, and Vangeli and Mark driving off in Vangeli's Monaro, all giving Farkas the one-finger salute.
"Oh, there's one thing I forgot: Gordon. He still had some unfinished business with Mr. Johnson..." Normally I'm not a fan of "Where Are They Now?"-type sequences, however I do like the last line of the film: "The Clarks got back their beloved Nissan Cedric, and the Johnsons? The Johnsons spend their lives avoiding the Clarks." I also appreciate a happy ending to a joyful film about boys and their toys. Again, there's a bit of fun in this sequence, as Farkas and his friends gatecrash the Johnsons' plumbing company's annual barbecue.
Tass and Parker have brought another fantastic comedy to the silver screen, and to DVD in the 21st century. Not one of its 90 minutes are wasted. 9/10