Cast: Nathan Phillips, Clayton Watson, Steady Eddy, Chloe Maxwell, Robert Menzies, Gyton Grantley, Syd Brisbane, Rory Williamson
Director: Evan Clarry
Writer: Steve Pratt
Rated: M medium level violence, medium level coarse language, drug references
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Brandon (Nathan Phillips) absolutely lives for the surf. Too bad for him, an episode of surf rage throws him miles away from anything resembling a beach. In fact, the good-behaviour bond that the Magistrates court sentenced him with throws Brandon in the deep end of more potential bad-behaviour than any amount of good. As part of his punishment he's sent to help at a home for the intellectually disabled - enter Trevor (Steady Eddy) and Adrian (Clayton Watson), both of them smart enough to realize that Brandon is their ticket out of there for a bit of fun. Activate a road trip to the beach, add a sexy but mysterious babe named Jo (Chloe Maxwell) and factor in a few gangsters trying to kill them, a rival gang, a deserted farm and a spear gun - and the body count begins.
If they do ever make it to the beach they'll have to be quick, stick together and stay UNDER THE RADAR.
Using disabled people as main characters in a movie might seem trite, but in the case of 'Under The Radar' they are not demoralized at all, rather they are being depicted as ordinary people. Brandon (an excellent Nathan Phillips) is a free spirit who is basically a freeloading beach bum with a caring heart. He is sent to a home for the intellectually disabled, to teach him a lesson after an altercation with the Mayor's son. He is meant to learn about the disabled and to try to learn to have some empathy for them, but thinks it's all just a big joke - he'd rather be sitting in his car smoking a joint. He gradually comes to like some of the other residents, and he uses two of them - Adrian and Trevor - to enable him to take off one weekend for some surfing, with them in tow. They pick up a hitchhiker, Jo, who has emotional baggage of her own, and think that this is the life.
'Under The Radar' is one of those movies that starts almost at the finish and then backtracks its way to fill in the gaps. We first meet the lead characters as a gang holds them hostage, which is a bit confusing until the first flashback sequence but then it all slowly falls into place and it does actually work this way.
The film has a very Australian outdoors look being shot mainly on location in Queensland without being too ockerish. It has some very funny lines, some pathos, some amusing stunts and overall, a feeling of genuine substance. The only overdone stereotype was the mafia style gang, complete with black attire, but even Brandon managed to point out to them how clichéd they appeared.
'Under The Radar' successfully combines comedy with just enough suspense to create a decent, fun and ultimately satisfying film, which for once in an Australian movie was a welcome relief.
Rating : B+