– by David Morgan-Brown
Paul Fenech is one of Australia’s underappreciated comedian/filmmaker gems. Since writing, directing, producing and starring in the main role for the SBS show Pizza back in 2000, he’s been in top gear since, producing more and more shows with his vile, violent comedic style such as Swift and Shift Couriers and Housos. In just the past three years, he has given us a Housos movie, a Housos stage play, and now we have Fat Pizza vs Housos. I’d be the first to say this movie (like most of the other content Fenech works on) is an acquired taste, and if his TV shows are to your fancy, you’re bound to enjoy this raunchy and rude showdown of a film.
Fenech has shown in his work how he can somehow cross all sorts of timelines across each other (like the historical revisionism that we see so much of in Pizza) so it was only too easy for him to combine his two most popular TV shows together (along with a small cameo by the Swift and Shift Couriers crew). This coupling of the two shows is as follows: Fat Pizza chef and owner Bobo (Johnny Boxer) moves his shop to Sunnyvale, the most Bogan suburb in all of Australia. After a failed stint with hiring illegal refugees, he soon begins to rediscover some of his old workers, such as Habib (Tahir Bilgic), Rocky (Rob Shehadie), and Sleek the Elite (Paul Nakad). Also making a return is the star of the show, Pauly (Paul Fenech), who has been held captive by a kinky sex-shop owner for over 10 years (I told you it’d be raunchy). Pauly also begins less than minimum wage work for the new Fat Pizza and all these characters soon intersect with the folks of Housos’ Sunnyvale, such as the local biker gang, Dazza (Jabba), Shazza (Elle Dawe), Kev the Kiwi (Kevin Taumata), Nessa (Vanessa Taumata), and Franky Falzoni (also played by Paul Fenech).
Fat Pizza vs Housos is a flawed comedy film because of how ambitious it is and it features little regard for appeasing a large audience. A whole entire range of Australian stereotypes are mocked, with no group of people safe from its aim. Yet this comedy is all in good humour, and does not put any group of people on a pedestal, it’s fair game for everyone being ridiculed and good on it for that.
It unfortunately seems that each year that goes by we are presented with even more mediocre comedy films that play things incredibly safe, have no personality in their humour, and come across as lifeless and (worst of all) not that funny. Fenech and his crew are a talented and funny lot and it shows through this film where Fenech’s humour has been honed, the film features all sorts of sight gags, plenty of gross-out humour, exaggerated satire, ridiculous political humour, violent slapstick, and a healthy dose of great lines — “I’m half-Serbian, half-Croatian. Every morning when I wake up, I want to kill myself.”
As it usually goes with Fenech’s shows and other films (or ‘fill-ums’ as he seems to call them), there’s a looseness to this movie that suggests he has not caught on to how to construct a feature film, with jokes, scenes, and plot-points rolling past with disregard for the sum of its parts — characters pop up and disappear, the narrative shoots by in an episode manner, and most unforgiving the film ends on the most anti-climatic point, just as you think things are going to get as hectic as it can get.
Fat Pizza vs Housos will be hard pressed to rope in any new fans, but it will certainly please (and delightfully offend) regular fans. In a time where political correctness is becoming more prevalent, it’s important that a film like this can come out and would’ve certainly caused more of a controversial storm if it were more popular. Apparently, a follow-up will be out (perhaps next year) and I am eagerly awaiting whatever Paul Fenech has for us next.