★★★½ - STUFF
- Kiwi Thomson 'twins' steal crowdpleasing Aussie comedy -
English actor Sally Phillips dons a convincing Australian accent and New Zealand’s unlikely “Thomson twins” are among the scene-stealers in this wicked little crowd-pleasing dramedy.
A kind of modern day Full Monty or suburban Perth take on Magic Mike, at its heart, How to Please a Woman is actually the story of Phillips’ Gina’s own journey of self-discovery, empowerment and sexual reawakening.
Left devastated by being the only one let go during a restructuring at her business liquidation company, she is almost as unimpressed at her husband Adrian’s (Cameron Daddo) lack of effort in giving her cash as a birthday gift. With her half-day off now ruined, she throws herself into an afternoon of household chores, until there’s a surprise knock at her door.
Mortified that it’s a fit young man (Alexander England) armed with a portable speaker and easily removable clothes, after “Tom” reveals that he’s been paid to do anything she wants for the next two hours by her swimming mates, she decides to harness his energy into the one thing she’d dearly love – for him to clean her house.
Initially, he baulks. However, with a little gentle persuasion – and instruction – Tom leaves her satisfied with his labours.
As Gina regales her fellow ocean swimmers with how she “used” her present, their noises of approval give her an idea. One of her last tasks for her former employers was to uplift a file from a failing removal company. While Pleased to Move You’s current business model clearly isn’t sustainable, perhaps its all-male staff, including Tom, could retrain.
However, it quickly becomes clear that not all clients’ priorities are the same and that quality control is a major issue. As Gina thrashes out these teething issues and deals with some unexpected speed-bumps, she finds herself reflecting on her own wants and desires too.
Most definitely not for the prudish or faint-hearted, How to Please a Woman is a raucous, if slightly ragged tale.
Writer-director’s Renee Webster’s feature debut perhaps lacks a little emotional depth, essentially a series of dramatic setbacks and often hilarious set-pieces, rather than a seamless narrative. If it fails to reach the heights of the classic Aussie dramedies of the ‘90s (Muriel’s Wedding, The Castle), it is certainly bursting with memorable moments and should be guaranteed to at least raise a smile.
From Gina’s secluded carpark-based pre-booking interviews to a brilliant conceived gag involving a bluetooth vibrator and an exercise bike, there are scenes that will have you in stitches. The latter is part of a charming turn by Kiwi Erik Thomson (Packed to the Rafters), who plays the removal company boss Steve. His namesake and fellow New Zealander Josh Thomson might disappointingly have less to do, but when deployed in a key scene, the results are devastatingly hilarious.
More than anything though, How to Please a Woman is a reminder of just how funny, smart and luminous the multi-talented Phillips (Miranda, Veep) can be.
- James Croot, STUFF
How to Please a Woman is now playing at Light House Petone and Pauatahanui!