Courtesy Photo
*1/2 95 minutes | Rated: R
Opened: Friday, November 13, 1998
Directed by Stephan Elliott

Starring Johnathon Schaech, Rod Taylor, Susie Porter, Dee Smart, Richard Moir, Maggie Kirkpatrick & Barry Humphries


Vivid photography of Australian outback and unusual camerawork enhanced by wide screen viewing would certainly make this movie easier to sit through.

Overcooked Australian comedy a failed follow-up for 'Priscilla' director Stephan Elliott

By Rob Blackwelder

Remember in "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" how much fun the desert of Australia's Northern Territories seemed as seen from the passenger seat of a frock-filled bus owned by a trio of screaming queens?

Well, lightning did not strike twice for director Stephan Elliott.

In his new loonies-in-the-Outback comedy "Welcome to Woop Woop," an American street hustler on the run in Australia picks up a freckle-faced, tube-topped, sexpot hitchhiker with a randy streak a mile wide. After several rounds of road-side sex, Teddy (Johnathon Schaech from "That Thing You Do!") thinks he has it made, until the girl dopes him, marries him and drags him back to the dysfunctional shantytown she calls home.

So far, so funny -- on paper, perhaps. But the fact that Teddy hasn't a single distinguishing personality trait betrays the fact that he's little more than a plot device, sent to deliver the audience into Woop Woop, an isolated "Mad Max"-meets-Dogpatch community of tin shacks and unwashed oafs, where new husbands are welcomed but never allowed to leave.

The rest of the movie is little more than alternating dark and daffy episodes of escalating eccentricity, most of them involving flatulence and/or Rodgers and Hammerstein show tunes. Weird? Yes. But grossly over-acted and rarely funny.

Barrel-chested, beer-bellied Rod Taylor (looking the worse for the wear 44 years after "The Time Machine") is featured as the town's despot patriarch. Babydoll-like Susie Potter (A poster girl for why freckles are sexy) plays Teddy's sex-crazed new wife. And Barry Humphries (you know, Dame Edna!) pops in here and there as a character called Blind Wally.

Everybody gets one idiosyncratic schtick except handsome, square-jawed Teddy -- ostensibly the movie's main character. He has little to do here but try half-heartedly to escape -- one of the primary reasons the picture falls flat.

But even with a hero who wasn't virtually irrelevant, "Woop Woop" would still be an unruly blunder of overcooked characters, trapped in a limiting gimmick of a screenplay. The whole movie feels like Elliott was desperately trying to one-up himself in his first project since "Priscilla."

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