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By Clint Morris | April 9, 2005

The Australian Film Industry has been about as healthy as a diseased miniature-poodle living under powerlines in recent times, so it’s a good thing that 2005 is shaping up to be a much better year for the local cinematic society. And whilst comedian Jimeoin’s latest film, “The Extra”, isn’t the big booster shot the industries so desperately yearning – it’s both a step in the right direction and a welcome band-aid to provisionally ease the soreness of our ailing art.

If you’ve seen an Australian comedy over the last couple of years, chances are they’ve been about lowlives, third-grade criminals or fixatedly dinkum hoodlums. What a relief then to discover there’s – well, there’s one shonky Aussie gangster in this thing, but he’s at least sufferable – less of that worn-out constituent in Jimeoin’s latest and more of the gunless, more pragmatic variety filling the screen.

Essentially a movie that relies on the comic and charm of the popular Irish export, “The Extra” tells the story of, well, a film extra that yearns to get his mug on his own movie-billboard one day. Teaming with fallen film star turned dodgy filmmaker Curtis Thai-Buckworth Rhys Muldoon), ‘The Extra’ nudges one step closer to fulfilling that dream – but first he has to cross paths with the gangster (Bob Franklin) bankrolling the production, a mistrustful cop with fervour to perform himself (Shaun Micallef), and tell his latest flame (Katherine Slattery) that she may have given him crabs.

Whether you laugh at his gags or scoff at them, there’s still no denying that Jimeoin is one of his countries most likeable and exceedingly charming comics. This guy’s the real-deal: As nice as pie, and as genuine as an Italian leather wallet. It’s because of his presence in “The Extra”, that the movie’s such an easy-to-take ride.

While the comics’ first film, “The Craic” was a major success; it wasn’t a meal that made everyone feel full. “The Extra”, on the other hand, is a better film than the “Craic” and much more universally appealing.

Unfortunately, Jimeoin is more ‘cute’ than ‘laugh-out-loud funny’ in his latest film, but in order to attract the much more desirable younger crowd – even, family audiences – the adult humour does have to be near excised, and in it’s place instead you’ve got to add innocuous, reasonably clean humour that the ratings board will take into consideration when slapping it with it’s classification. There are still some genuine laughs to be had – and some real stinker moments too – but generally, it’s the film’s playful relationship between our hero and the lovely Claudia (a mesmerising Katherine Slattery) that seems to be the hub here, and such stratagem is more likely to raise a welcome smile than hit the funny bone.

Whilst the script isn’t too bad, there are a couple of spots that bring out its hollowness. In particular, the end, which seems to be both hurried and unsatisfactory. The filmmakers obviously had trouble coming up with the perfect way of ending this tale – and, well, it shows.

If the final reel had been as inviting as the opening reel we might’ve been handing over the gold ribbon. Instead, “The Extra” garners silver – but that’s still a worthwhile ribbon, and it’s largely thanks to a tremendously charming performance by one of Australia’s finest talents.

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