Stone Bros. has a refreshing air about it, but its unique commentary on social issues far outweighs its ability to bring on the laughs.
Although marketed as the first indigenous Australian comedy, one can be forgiven if Stone Bros. is viewed as nothing more than a buddy stoner movie, if the film’s opening scene of marijuana seductively rolled into 187 joints is anything to go by, which, apparently, the Australian film classification board did with tis MA rating.
But the stone in Stone Bros. has less to do with the foul weed, and more with a sacred rock which instigates a young Aboriginal man’s spiritual journey back to his roots.
Luke Carroll plays said man, Eddie. Tired of the dead end slog of city life, he decides to return home in a bid to find himself, returning a sacred rock back to his beloved uncle in the process.
Unfortunately for Eddie, his freeloading stoner cousin Charlie (Leon Burchill) has decided to tag along for the ride, brining disaster with him at every turn.
During their road trip back home, they run into an assortment of characters, including a white-cop-wannabe-blackfella (Peter Phelps), and Italian rock god (Valentino del Toro), and an Aboriginal drag queen (David Page).
Unlike another recently released Australian road trip comedy, Charlie & Boots, Stone Bros. thankfully does not resort to distracting its audience with picturesque imagery of the vast Australian outback.
But like that film, Stone Bros. struggles to inspire laughs on a regular enough basis to call it a successful comedy. A big reason for this is the dependence of having Burchill’s Charlie as the main source of comedic inspiration, with his characters self destructive tendencies arousing more scorn and empathy in this viewer as supposed to laughter.
There are moments of humour, to be sure. Pehlps’ cop stuck in an identity crisis is a fun character to watch, and offers commentary on the exploitation of Aboriginal spirituality by new age gurus.
A sequence involving a possessed dog is energetically staged, yet does get a bit silly. Ditto a previous scene featuring a jaded elder lobbing dynamite at a wedding congregation.
Yet while there are faults in the execution of its comedy, the issues of cultural identity, drug abuse, homosexuality, and racism within the Aboriginal community are explored in a thorough and positive manner, opting not to preach but engage the viewer in spirited conversation.