“For once, we’re gonna be a normal family.”
Australian made TV is pretty terrible. And Australian made comedy is generally just plain shit house. At least, that’s what I thought. Then I saw The Librarians. Three seasons of pretty hilarious TV made by Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope. In recent years, they’ve one upped themselves with the even funnier Upper Middle Bogan. So when I saw that Butler and Hope had made the jump to the big screen, I knew I had to see Now Add Honey.
Caroline (Butler) is balancing life as a lawyer, wife and mother. Her husband (Erik Thompson as Richard) is out at the office all night working, while her daughters barley listen to a thing she says. But Caroline is determined to make them the perfect family for at least one day, when her sister (Portia de Rossi as Beth) and niece (Lisa Fry as Honey) arrive home after years in America. Years in America where Honey has become the star of a series of kids’ movies. With here other sister Katie (Lucy Durack) and soon to be brother-in-law Alex (Hamish Blake) in tow, they arrive at the airport just in time to see Beth get arrested for bringing OxyContin pills into the country.
With Beth in rehab for her painkiller addiction, the oh-so-Hollywood Honey has to stay with the suburbanite Caroline and her everyday family. But rehab and angry Hollywood agents aren’t the only things Caroline has to worry about. There’s Katie’s upcoming wedding, a lost job over a smashed windscreen, and it turns out that her husband hasn’t been working on his long nights at the office.
I’ve complained before about the Australian film industry having a bit of a chip on its shoulder. So many Aussie movies feel like they’re trying to prove they can compete with the big boys by doing their best to seem Important with capital “I”. The problem is, all too often the importance comes at the expense of entertainment. Not enough Australian movies try to be simply entertaining. Now Add Honey follows a pretty standard formula, and all the emotional beats you expect come exactly when you expect them. And none of that is a problem, because Now Add Honey is actually funny and it’s actually entertaining.
Like with The Librarians and Upper Middle Bogan, Butler’s script and Hope’s direction do what comedy should do. They use their story and characters for joke delivery and they make them multi dimensional enough that the emotional beats work to support the jokes even more. Now Add Honey is the kind of movie that makes comedy look easy, and makes me wonder why Australia doesn’t make more decent comedies. But it only looks so easy because it’s so tight, precise and well honed. Butler and Hope obviously know the rules when it comes to structure and story. And, the best bit is, they know how to have plenty of fun within those rules too.