Mike is a lonely boy at his suburban Australian school. He is a regular latecomer and clearly not one of the `in crowd'. Then a new boy turns up and the English teacher pairs them up to do a project on `Romeo and Juliet'. New boy is the shyly handsome William who lives with his alcoholic, bullying father. He suggests doing a video remake based on classic monster tales and they go for `Frankenstein' and the `Wolfman' - which they make themselves up with none too convincing results - brilliant.
As the video develops so does their relationship and soon the burgeoning hormones of adolescence are set to take over and we are all set for another take on the star crossed lovers.
There is no real bedroom action here either but that is not the point of the story as it is a coming of age and coming out tale. I really enjoyed this independent film. It does have flaws and one is that it seemed to take a while to get going, but once it does then it soon finds its' rhythm. Some of the scenes just looked too staged and yes I know they have to be but you can almost hear `and action!'Also some of the acting is a bit am - dram but the two leads in Tristan Barr as Mike and Lucas Linehan as William are both convincing and had proper screen chemistry. Still despite all of the above this was a very good and credit worthy film, it is like an old T.V. that takes its time to warm up, and hence is very much worth the effort of bearing with it. I hope the team don't take too long before they have another film out.
The most amazing thing about this movie is probably that it was filmed with a budget of 30,000 Australian dollars- Roughly £16,000 if Google converter is correct,(which is slightly more than it costs to buy a Ford Focus) If you look at the credits closely you see that a lot of people multi task, the director seems to use every member of his family and Lucas Linehan (Will) put his own money up to get the film through post production towards a release. This sort of spirit shines through the whole movie and although some may feel it is a little slow to get going, please stick with it- it's well worth it! Without a doubt the driving force behind the whole movie was the performance of the two leads- I fell a little bit in love with Will from the moment he visited his clinic bound mother and gave sweets to a young lady who was also a patient in the hospital- and that feeling never let up. The chemistry between him and Mike was so natural that it fealt like I was watching two young gay men in real life. So many films these days seem to have money thrown at them, but absolutely no heart- it was wonderful to see a film where the opposite was true.
Monster Pies is a fresh, completely engaging film that should please anyone with a heart, especially if they're gay. It has something quite distinctively Australian about the tone (a bit like The Sum Of Us crossed with Gods and Monsters), and the boys are delightful, amazingly natural together, and both beautiful but polar opposites as physical and personality types. I only wish such boys fell in love more often! There is a kind of energy that draws you in from the first moments, where Mike is cycling along listening to Beethoven on his cassette walkman. The colours are very fresh - there is a swimming pool scene (always a plus), and the family histories are given with a minimum sense of cliché, and without the quirkiness of some American indie productions. The school scenes are also brilliant, with a Romeo and Juliet alternative take filmed by the boys dressed up as movie monsters. It leads to a Carrie-like feel at the school prom. The film doesn't go in that direction, but what does happen may seem like a wrong turning to some. The short film that comes with it shows how the director Lee Galea is drawn to these undercurrents, and it does make his talent an original one. There's also a great lesbian band featured, but it is the romance between the boys that stands firmly at the heart of this remarkable feature, which I would be very sorry to have missed!
Hurrah, I hear you cry! A gay-themed film that doesn't rely on naked men and plentiful sex scenes with which to attract an audience. And yes, that does make a very pleasant change. This is, for the most part, a Beautiful Thing-style teen gay romance and, for the most part, is sweet and charming.
But there are problems.
Some of the attitudes of the characters seem out of date. Now, the reason for this is that the film appears to be set a decade or two in the past. After all, the lead character works at a video (VHS) store, rather than a store than stocks DVDs and Blu-Rays. And, at the very beginning of the film, we see him slip a cassette into his Walkman. Sadly, we are not reminded enough throughout the film that this is a period piece. In fact, except for those two elements, there's little to tell us at all - the soundtrack is of classical music, so no reminder there. But we need to be reminded or the whole thing seems dated, and therefore clichéd.
The other problem is with the final fifteen minutes or so of the film. I'm not going to say much about it here as I don't want to give the ending away - and PLEASE don't read the small print beside the 15 classification symbol on the back cover as it does actually tell you the ending! But the final fifteen minutes or so do drag on for far too long. I'm not even sure the final act is right for the film anyway, but even so, it is handled quite badly, I think - and what starts off as a sweet romance ends up as something quite different, which is a shame for the sweet romance was actually rather, well, sweet.
This is worth watching though. The leads are great, the writing is, for the most part, rather good. Bu just switch off before the final act and you'll probably find it more enjoyable!
Monster Pies is the story of two average, slightly nerdy guys in high school who fall in love and experience practically everything guys have experienced in gay movies since The Boys in the Band - in other words: too much. Too much for THIS movie, anyway. Robert Altman could have juggled this much melodrama, but this is a small movie that staggers under an unnecessarily heavy load.
It's as if Lee Galea, the movie's writer-director-producer-executive producer-editor-etc, had a long list of things he felt compelled to include in his one shot at a feature-length gay movie, and most of them just get shoehorned into the story in places where they don't fit. The result is a painfully clumsy movie, in which the viewer gets slung around from one trauma to the next, with no sense of continuity or understanding of why all this stuff is happening. It's arbitrary, it's tiring, and it makes it very hard to care about these kids, since they live in some slightly skewed universe in which nothing makes sense.
So... why did I give this wreck of a movie three stars? Because of the two kids. Five or six times in the course of this disaster there is such sweet, strong, simple and pure affection between them that it makes all the other crap worth suffering through.
It's like gentle magic. You're wrestling with this movie, trying to enjoy it but finding that an impossible feat, and then Will and Mike look at each other, and say something so tender and so lovely that you can't help loving them.
Only when the two guys are alone together is this movie worth watching, and not always even then. Those few magical scenes last a total of maybe fifteen minutes, and they're scattered through the movie almost at random, like diamonds in a landfill. They make Monster Pies well worth watching, but it's rough going in between.
"Monster Pies" is an extremely clever interplay between the story of Romeo and Juliet (the star crossed lovers), and the gradual realisation of two outsiders (from different backgrounds) who find identity and love with each other. The fact that the two lovers are male, seems transient to the story, and the intimacy is careful to avoid sensationalism. If anything the film has a natural look and feel to it, and the audience cannot but feel empathy towards to the two main characters. Not only as their "forbidden" love develops, but also because of their own personal backgrounds, An abusive drunk for a father on one side, and a dysfunctional divorced family on the other.
Whilst the acting is a little stoic and at times forced, there is a genuine sincerity that exists between the two lovers. The direction and filmography is strong, with some really moving scenes brilliantly captured by the director. The school dance in particular, stands out as a testament to how two 'forbidden' lovers can loose themselves in each other, by allowing one moment free of societal comment, judgment and prejudice. Whilst a fleeting moment, it manages to convey a complexity of emotion, that proves the point...... love is indeed a overarching emotion, that can transcend a world of difficulty. The black and white short film, is perhaps one of the best moments in the film, and could be a rather good short story with a little tweaking.
My one criticism is that of the scripting which lacked the depth and resonance of the direction. The dialogue at times was insincere and lacked a natural dynamic, which was important for those scenes. As a result one cannot help but feel with a better script writer, and stronger actors the film could have been a great deal more successful.
It starts off slow, so hang in there. Look beyond the acting and see the film for the story it tells.