Strange Bedfellows is an Australian film released in 2004. Unbelievably, it starred Paul Hogan, long after he had enjoyed huge success overseas with the Crocodile Dundee series and others. Predictably, however, it makes for great comedy when you team him up with Michael Caton of The Castle plus others.
Two blokes, a divorcee and a widower, living in a fictional Aussie town pretend to be gay in order to solve a 'tax problem'. There is, of course an agreement that no one in their town need ever know - and the 'union' would be paperwork only. Of course, the tax office wants to interview them to verify their relationship, and the paperwork theory is out the window. Game on. First, they consult the only gay man in town, the hairdresser. He points them to gay scene in the big smoke. Upon their return, they have to face the gossip of the town, the taxman, as well as a daughter and her partner.
There is something quaint about Australian movies, and this gem is no different. Dealing with homosexuality/ homophobia in small country towns, the movie is thankfully not too heavy-handed with its point. The movie does not try to shock, or to preach and therefore finds it quite easy to entertain.
There is the sub-theme of cheating the taxman which gives the movie appeal for just about everyone. It is a friendly movie, with no bad guys. Not even the taxman, brilliantly portrayed, wears a black hat.
There is something strange about the product placement in Strange Bedfellows. The Australia Post vehicle is changed enough to be recognised as a Postie, but is not an Australia Post vehicle. Both Coopers and Budget have contracts with the movie, but they are very subtle. This is no James Bond flick.
There is the obligatory Department of Tourism advertising, covering scenes of the idyllic country township. This movie also has the opportunity to show some of the Oxford Street scene in Sydney.
This movie is vintage Hoges and not commercial "put another shrimp on the barbie" Paul Hogan. It is a touching movie that has a cute surprise ending - not a Hitchcockesque turn after turn after turn, but a pleasantly unexpected, fun ending.
For balance, this comment was posted on IMDB:
As a long suffering Australian, please, in 2005 could we perhaps, instead of making five half-baked, insipid, quirky sleepers, could we pool the funds and make one decent tear-you-from-your-seat blockbuster.*
I say: long live the Australian half-baked, insipid, quirky sleepers and leave Hollywood to make the tear-you-from-your-seat blockbusters.
Paul Hogan ... Straight cinema owner in financial trouble
Michael Caton ... Straight mate and father
Pete Postlethwaite ... Straight-shooting tax inspector
Roy Billing ... Concerned mate
Paula Duncan ... General store owner and gossip
Shane Withington ... Concerned minister
Glynn Nicholas ... Town's straight hairdresser who uses a gay facade
*http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0360032/ (Last visited: 8 Jul 2004)
http://www.strangebedfellows.com.au/ (Last visited: 8 Jul 2004)
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/StrangeBedfellows-10002633/preview.php (Last visited: 6 Jul 2004)