by Susan Starr and Kevin Kocur
The Australian experimental comic, Yahoo Serious, wrote, directed and starred in “Reckless Kelly”. Serious plays Ned Kelly, no doubt based on the real Australian bandit of the same name, who uses his homemade motorcycle and large selection of guns to rob banks and give all the money to the poor. Ned claims that the Kelly Gang were the world’s first motorcycle gang. If true, bad moviemakers everywhere owe them a debt of gratitude.
The Kellys own the Glenrowan hotel and pub on Reckless Island. The place is filled with very cute Aussie wildlife and eccentric drunks who provide a nice audience for Ned. Unfortunately, the island is threatened by the eeevil banker Sir John (Hugo Weaving) and British officer Major Wib (Alexei Sayle), who threaten to have the island moved to Japan unless the Kellys can come up with one million dollars.
The Kellys’ moral code decrees that any money stolen from Australian banks needs to go back to the people. Fortunately, their moral code says that money stolen from American banks can be kept, so Ned heads to Los Angeles to get the money. Ned flies to LA, but before he can successfully rob any banks, he ends up being offered a million dollars by movie producer, Sam Delance, (John Pinette) to star in “The Christian Cowboy”, a movie about a motorcycle riding Man of God who cleans up Las Vegas. Ned’s co-star in the movie is his love interest, the appropriately named Robin Banks (Melora Hardin).
The opening scenes of “Reckless Kelly” had a silly cartoon-like mood, i.e. boinging sound effects whenever kangaroos hopped, which made me think I was going to hate it. I started to warm up to it when Ned, sick of being shot all the time, fashions himself a profoundly weird looking suit of armor made from garbage cans. When Ned goes to LA and the movie starts satirizing Hollywood, I was laughing out loud. I love the producer who claimed the “quality of his movies is so high they bypass theaters completely and go straight to video.” There’s also a great explanation why the LAPD aren’t allowed to shoot actors. The scenes in “The Christian Cowboy” of Ned riding his bike into Vegas wearing an outfit that is sort of a cross between a pilgrim, a priest and a Hells Angel, are worth the rental fee alone.
Crikey! When first confronted with this film from Down Under, I was mentally counting how many cans of Foster’s Lager I would need to get through the thing. Surprisingly, there are more things about this movie that I like than dislike. The bike is way cool. Kelly alleges that he built it by hand from found pieces and scrap metal, and the bike looks like it would be right at home in any of the Mad Max films. We don’t know what the engine actually is, but the thing runs on Aviation Fuel, sounds like a mixture of parallel twin and turbine engine, all the while farting and belching black smoke out of the tail pipes. And occasionally parts will fall off. At one point the entire bike falls apart, but Kelly manages to put it back together with only a pocket tool.
Apparently, Yahoo Serious can actually ride. There are many scenes of him riding the Kelly bike, as well as a great scene of him riding a neon crucifix-adorned Harley during his movie role as the Christian Cowboy.
They say that a great movie inspires you. While “Reckless Kelly” isn’t a monumental masterpiece, it’s still a pretty darn good movie and, as such, manages to inspire me. While I am not inspired to go out and rob banks, I am inspired to build my own bike out of spare parts. I may, however, forgo making my own riding gear out of empty trash receptacles. Especially if they haven’t been rinsed out.
But for now, I am inspired to wash my hair with Aussie hair products, and then take Susan to dinner at Outback Steakhouse.