Spin Out has been marketed very hard as a standard romantic comedy. According to the trailers, it follows a group of jackaroos (and jillaroos) at a ‘bachelors and spinsters’ ball where their love lives hilariously intersect. However, that doesn’t quite describe the oddball nature of Spin Out, which is like an affectionate fusion of Project X and Love Actually, with utes and country pride thrown into the mix.
The story centres around the efforts of Billy (Xavier Samuel) to persuade his life-long friend Lucy (Morgan Griffin) not to leave for Sydney. But as the night goes on, he begins to realise that perhaps his feelings are not as platonic as he thought and that he has some growing up to do. At the same time, the none-too-bright Sparrow (Travis Jeffrey) yearns hopelessly for the aptly named “Scary Mary” (Melissa Bergland). Three loveable idiots navigate the terrifying world of singledom, and various people succeed or fail in love.
It’s clear within ten minutes of the opening credits this was made by Australians for Australians. In an American film, the country ball would likely be hyped as the biggest romantic event of the year, with people eager for a chance at love. But in Spin Out it’s just a chance to get really, really drunk and have a root. And yes, those are the characters’ exact words.
Romance tropes are gently mocked, with anguished declarations of love from the last people you’d expect and an inept seductress that fails to offer serious competition, or elicit even mild concern. Directors Marc Gracie and Tim Ferguson, the latter of whom has also co-written the screenplay alongside Edwina Exton, mostly avoid the contrived situations so beloved by movies like 27 Dresses and Ten Things I Hate About You, instead relying on the endearing idiosyncrasies of the characters for laughs. When Mary snidely brushes off Sparrow’s inept attempts at wooing, it comes from who they are, not some improbable series of wacky events. On the flipside, when things go wrong it’s not because of the tired old cliché of poor communication. Billy and Lucy might have their fair share of misunderstandings, but their ultimate difficulties are harder to solve. In fact, for a couple so deeply in denial, they spend a surprising amount of time talking about their problems.
Lead actors Xavier Samuel and Morgan Griffin are hampered by a predictable storyline, but manage to breathe life into it via sheer charisma, and Melissa Bergland absolutely shines in a sexy, intimidating and subtly vulnerable performance as the sarcastic Mary. The rest of the cast deserves a round of applause for delivering such gems as “Don’t bring violence to the mud-fight” with a straight face.
Not everyone will enjoy Spin Out’s romanticising of the country lifestyle, nor its unflattering attitude toward alternate sexuality and flight attendants (what did flight attendants ever do to Tim Ferguson?), but the soundtrack is upbeat, there’s a literal rain of beer, and it’s difficult to hold a grudge when people are settling their differences with a friendly communal mudfight. If everyone solved their problems with a mudfight, the world would be a better place.
Anyone headed to the movies this weekend should see this film. Girls will enjoy the story and snarky banter, while their boyfriends will be delighted by the casual profanity, car mustering and occasional toilet humour. Like its characters, Spin Out is quirky and flawed, but very loveable.
THE REEL SCORE: 8/10