Never before has a line from a film so accurately described its own lack of ambition, which is a real shame given the comedy pedigree of co-directors Tim Ferguson (Doug Anthony All-Stars) and Marc Gracie. Ferguson’s directorial debut plays on stereotypes, the kind Gracie parodied in Totally Full Frontal, but SPIN OUT doesn’t so much skewer them as literally roll about in the mud with them.
The familiar rom-com setup sets up Billy (Xavier Samuel) and Lucy (Morgan Griffin) as one of their small country town’s most capable Ute driving teams. Freewheeling Billy annoys Lucy one too many times, and she suddenly decides she’s moving to Sydney to pursue bigger things. His last chance at keeping her there is wooing her at the annual Bachelors and Spinsters ball. However, city folk Nic (Lincoln Lewis) and Sasha (Christie Whelan-Browne) are determined to win the hearts and loins of Billy and Lucy before the night is through.
SPIN OUT takes the most basic of genre plots and stretches it thin over a series of random events. No more ambitious than the social hierarchy narrative perfected by the likes of Pretty in Pink, Edwina Exton and Ferguson’s script never gets past the rough treatment stage, taking the very limited setting of the ball and filling it with moments. This is the most frustrating thing about the film, as no depth is ever given to the myriad of characters that roll onto the screen in a conveyor belt of tropes.
The most endearing sub “plot” is the awkward Sparrow (Travis Jeffrey) trying to woo surly childhood crush Mary (Melissa Bergland), but even this is a dot-point series of exchanges leading up to the inevitable. More troubling are the broad stereotypes, taking sweeping snapshots of “country” versus “city” people. An incredibly awkward mini-story involves two men in frocks suddenly discovering their affections for each other, a baffling choice for a 2016 film. It’s a cultural cringe mixed with casual homophobia (amidst a sea of nationalistic Eureka Flags) that makes SPIN OUT miss the tonal mark completely.
There’s some beautiful photography in the opening sequences of the Australian countryside, but much of the film is mired in the literal dirt of two locations. Other scenes are forcefully constructed around ex-X Factor Australia star Taylor Henderson and ARIA and CMA winning Brooke McClymont who provide the singles for the soundtrack. The scene for the former is poorly edited, although the songs exceed anything else in the film. Stylistically jarring, Suicide Squad style title cards pepper the screen for no less than 13 characters.
As SPIN OUT stumbles towards cliched ending, it never really gets a chance to do any one thing particularly well. Taking a scattershot approach to assembling a story, it simply throws together a group of “things” and hopes to god they stick together. If the local industry continues to insult audiences in the way it treats the characters of this film, then the well-documented cultural aversion to local product will continue.