Nick GiannopoulosLucy BellVince ColosimoAbi Tucker
The Wog Boy
Medium: film
Year: 2000
Director: Aleksi Vellis
Writer: Chris Anastassiades, Nick Giannopoulos
Keywords: comedy
Country: Australia
Actor: Nick Giannopoulos, Lucy Bell, Vince Colosimo, Abi Tucker, Geraldine Turner, Stephen Curry, John Barresi, Costas Kilias, Vince D'Amico, Derryn Hinch, Tony Nikolakopoulos, Peter Hosking, Lucy Taylor, Trent Huen, Hung Le
Format: 92 minutes
Website category: Comedy
Review date: 18 May 2011
It's an Australian comedy called The Wog Boy. Its writer and lead actor, Nick Giannopoulos, is a Greek-Australian comedian whose other shows include Wogs Out of Work, Wog-A-Rama, Wog Story and, just for a change, Acropolis Now. This is not a man in denial of his ethnicity.
Firstly, some etymology. "Wog" in Britain and Australia is a racially offensive term. I'd always assumed it referred to dark-skinned people, but apparently in Australia it's more often used of immigrants from European countries like Italy, Greece, Spain, Malta, Turkey and the Slavic states. A curious additional fact is that Scientologists use the word in a disparaging way of non-Scientologists. They'll also claim the word has no racial connotations, even in countries where it does. In fairness L. Ron Hubbard used the word frequently and he was American, but he did live in England from 1953 to 1966.
Anyway, Nick Giannopoulos seems to have made a career out of this word. His character here wears it as a badge of pride. He drives a car with the licence plate "WOG BOY" and all his friends have a specific ethnic background. One of them murders the English language whenever he swears. The film's full of the kind of jokes you couldn't contemplate if you weren't making fun of your own friends and neighbours, but of course Giannopoulos is and so it works.
The plot involves Giannopoulos's struggles with the Ministry for Employment. He's a "dole-bludger", who furthermore manages to draw the attention of the minister. They see him as a good-for-nothing who's not even looking for work and spends all his time slacking off. This is fair. However at least he's better than the minister and her staff, who admittedly aren't all bad but still have a rich supply of criminals and losers. At least Giannopoulos is entertaining and helps people. He's a nice guy. A right-wing bullshit TV show gets involved, which leads to a silly story development that I found slightly exasperating, but it also kick-starts the plot. (Disappointingly the TV show's host never gets sacked, exposed and/or rogered by a barnyard animal, any of which would have improved the finale no end.)
Is it funny? Yes, it is. Admittedly it's possible to see more compelling storylines, given that the cast is full of losers and that the film's just as much about them as it is about the plot. However it has charm and there are some strong comedy ideas in here. The restaurant scene is extremely funny, as is later on the wedding. They don't even take sex seriously. "Please, I'm very scared, don't do that." Giannopoulos also has a 100% guaranteed pick-up line that makes any woman drop her knickers (and we hear it!), which gives rise to one highly entertaining scene.
The fact that he's Australian helps a lot. I really like Australian humour. There's something lovable about its relaxed attitude to... well, everything.
There's a love interest, Lucy Bell. This is done well, actually. She's given good reasons to hate Giannopoulos and the two of them don't really come across as romantic leads, but instead as antagonists with a lot of spark. I liked both of them. The film flirts with cliche by having her briefly disappear at the end, just for the sake of a final reconciliation... but fortunately they don't bother even trying to explain this away with a formulaic "this is how I feel" scene. Instead they just milk it for comedy. It's funny, so they get away with it.
The film has a 2010 sequel, incidentally, called Wog Boy 2: Kings of Mykonos. Unfortunately the reviewers don't seem to have liked it, while this original is currently the fifteenth highest-grossing Australian movie of all time.
This is a silly film. The ethnic minority losers are silly, as is the minister and her colleagues. To put it another way, they're a right bunch of twonks. "Your mother doesn't count." Giannopoloulos plays his own parents in flashbacks at the beginning, which in the case of his mother is unconvincing. However it's also a likeable film, in which everyone's endearing in their own gormless way and even the bad guys aren't evil. I enjoyed it. It's funny.
"I'm half Serbian, half Croatian. When I wake up in the morning I want to kill myself! Give me my money!"