Plot: Barry McKenzie (Barry Crocker) has just inherited a nice sum of cash, but in order to claim the windfall, he must venture to England, where he is to continue his family’s grand tradition in the nation. He won’t be alone in his journey however, as his aunt Edna (Barry Humphries) will be at his side, but he plans to focus on booze and women, rather than high culture. As soon as he arrives, Barry seeks out his old friends and the fun times begin, as he downs some Fosters, finds himself cast in a commercial, and is soon the target of a family looking to rise in the social world, unaware that Barry isn’t the high society type. But his real adventure kicks off when his musical talents land him a part in a hippie band, though his bandmates plan to cash in on him without passing on any of the profits. Is Barry in over his head or can he rally for one last push to prove booze, friends, and women are all he needs in life?
Entertainment Value: Now this is a true ozploitation classic, one of the movies that helped relaunch Australian cinema and inspired countless comedies that would follow in Barry’s wake. This one is filled with outlandish, over the top humor that is likely to offend and make some viewers do double takes, but the tone is absurd and Barry isn’t presented as a role model, just a wild man on the prowl. So yes, this is by no means politically correct, but if you take a film like Barry McKenzie seriously, that is more on you than the movie itself. If you like wild, outrageous humor, this one will deliver, though a good deal of the subject matter and lingo is Australian, so some jokes might not land for everyone. The more you know about the Aussie culture the better, but if you’ve seen some other ozploitation pictures, you should be able to get a good amount of the humor. If nothing else though, just the pure zaniness and wild performances will deliver some laughs. The film moves at a super brisk pace in most scenes and features a parade of colorful, memorable characters, all of whom seem to have enough quirks to ensure their scenes are humorous. I can see how this kind of humor wouldn’t land for all viewers of course, so you need that appreciation for brash, fearless jokes, or it just won’t work as well for you. I think the movie remains effective and an important slice of Aussie cinema, so it is well worth seeking out.
The movie has a good deal of naked flesh, mostly topless scenes and some bare bums, most of which is just as outlandish as the rest of the picture. In other words, this isn’t erotic nakedness, but comedic sleaze and the movie has some wild scenes, such as naked scraps and more. If you’re averse to some light sleaze, you’ll likely be put off, but I think the movie weaves it in well and it matches the overall tone, which is slapstick and bawdy throughout. There is some mild comedic violence at times, including an aggressive round of vomit, but no bloodshed. Given the wackiness that fuels the movie, a lot of the red stuff would have felt out of place. The dialogue is one of the film’s strong points, as it is an almost constant flow of jokes and barbs, especially when Barry runs into cultural differences with various folks. Even the most simple exchanges tend to veer into the absurd, with Barry’s brash persona in constant conflict with others or a general state of misunderstanding. But it is a lot of fun to watch him interact with the various folks and of course, Dame Edna has her share of memorable moments. As for overall craziness, this movie has a zany tone throughout and features some wild scenes, but doesn’t quite push through into total madness. Even so, ample wackiness is present and plenty of laughs can be had here.
Overall Insanity: 4/10
The Disc: Umbrella’s single disc edition of the movie looks good, with a clean and fairly detailed overall presentation. The movie could likely benefit from a new scan and bump to Blu-ray of course, but for a DVD the film is passable. The colors look warm, but natural in scope and contrast is effective, so while it might not stop traffic, the movie looks good and fans should appreciate that. The extras include Dame Edna’s introduction and the film’s trailer.