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By Phil Hall | February 16, 2007

The small Australian town of Tully was famous for two things: record rainfalls and a prosperous sugar industry. The sugar money disappeared when Brazil began dumping its harvest on the world markets, but the rain never stopped coming (the town flooded frequently). To celebrate its wet heritage while trying to build a new revenue source via tourism, the Tully business and political leaders decided to create a tourist attraction. Their idea: build the world’s largest gumboot.

“Big Dreamers” is perhaps not the best title for this documentary, since the dream of a constructing the world’s largest gumboot isn’t exactly a big dream. A foolish dream, perhaps, or maybe a weird dream. Perhaps the main problem with the film is the fact the central focus is so silly that it is difficult to get caught up in its mania.

Australia isn’t lacking for oversized attractions: a giant orange, giant abalone, and a giant banana dot the country and turn up in this film. But creating the Golden Gumboot (complete with a large green frog hanging from it) is such a lame idea that it is amazing the Tully citizens didn’t turn violent against the fools who conceived the plan.

Needless to say, the project went over budget and behind schedule thanks to a clash of personalities (it didn’t help that the engineer building the gumboot didn’t get along with the artist building the frog).

“Big Dreamers” runs a brisk 55 minutes, cut down from 200 hours of raw footage. How anyone can generate 200 hours of footage a movie about people building oversized gumboots is beyond me – at 55 minutes, I’m ready to give the people in the film a good gumboot kick in the shins.

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