Could have used a bit more bashing of racist heads.
Overall The Merger is easy entertainment but it has moments where it's a bit stupid and childish. For example the sports scenes are the weakest parts of this movie, especially the final game where the players start sweet talking with the opponents, that's just ridiculous and that's not what I call entertainment. There's also alot of racism and not alot of comeback against it, alot of forgiveness while a kick in the head was more appropriate. Sometimes I had the feeling racism was perfectly normal and that's just irritating to watch. The humor parts made the movie watchable, especially the conversations between the young Rafferty Grierson and Damian Callinan. The Merger isn't bad but it isn't that great either.
Reviewed by eddie_baggins8 / 10
A loveable Australian yarn
As Australian as a hot meat pie and a pair of well-worn thongs, The Merger is a quintessential ocker production but one also with a heart and message that will resonate with viewers of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds, making this local yarn a genuine winner.
Based on its lead actor and screenwriter Damian Callinan's well regarded one man show of the same name, audience's won't be overly surprised by where The Merger's plot line of underdogs up against the odds takes them but that matters little when there's so much heart and soul on display in Mark Grentell's film, along with a winning collection of character's that fittingly take the leap from stage to screen.
Taking place in the fictional small country town of Bodgy Creek and focusing around the struggling Bodgy Creek Australian Rules Football club The Rooster's, whose demolished asbestos ridden club rooms are the least of the clubs worries, The Merger nails small town mentality and the key role sport plays in these communities, as Callinan's retired AFL player Troy Carrington takes over the coaching reigns and embraces the towns refugee community to ensure the football club can field a competitive team.
Through this story The Merger crafts a truly loveable ensemble as Callinan is flanked by a fun and well-structured entourage of supporting players from John Howard's grizzled old town mainstay and refugee hater Bull Barlow, Kate Mulvany's determined single mother Angie Barlow and her son Neil (played promisingly by relative newcomer Rafferty Grierson) and then the rag tag makeshift Rooster player's who get the films best laughs and most heartfelt moments.
It's within this aspect that The Merger will surprise unsuspecting audiences, as what might initially seem like a stereotypical Australian sports comedy filled with scenes at the local pub or creative swearing becomes much more, as Callinan and Grentell shine a light on the oft hidden underbelly of Australian's intolerance towards those they don't understand and cultures that are foreign to theirs.
While still telling an often hilariously on point story of the Roosters and their playing roster that includes such gems as Porterhouse the local chef or Snapper the entrepreneur, The Merger brings in supporting characters like Fayssal Bazzi's Syrian refugee Sayyid, Harry Tseng's Taiwanese Tou Pou or Francis Kamara's African Didier and with that, a flavoursome and culturally rich tale of acceptance, friendship and mime football emerges.
Final Say -
A future Australian favourite that will become a mainstay of lounge-room viewing in the years to come, The Merger is a little film with a big heart and one of the most loveable Aussie comedies of the last few year's.
4 sweet n sour chicken kievs out of 5
Reviewed by maccas-563677 / 10
Breath of fresh air
Was great to see a uniquely Aussie film about footy, just before the season starts. This was easy to watch and a breath of fresh air alongside the saturated American crime and action dramas. In saying that, it was quite heavy on the drama itself.
It came close to losing itself among its message and agenda. It was way heavier than I anticipated. I thought it was very heartfelt and portrayed our multicultural communities well, though I also struggled to connect on a deeper level to some of the heavy scenes.
It all just felt the slightest bit superficial, predictable and forced. Sentimental for the sake of it. But still, it captured country footy so well, featured a couple of laughs, and made me smile. It's definitely one of the better Aussie films in recent years.
John Howard's performance and range was at a level high above everyone else's. Definitely recommend to fans of Aussie cinema and those wanting to get in the mood for the upcoming footy season!