Backyard Ashes is the little Australian film that could!
Backyard Ashes follows the story of a stereotypical Australian larrikin named Dougie Waters (Andrew S. Gilbert) coming to terms with his new next-door neighbour and boss, an entitled Englishman, Edward Lords (Felix Williamson).
Set in the regional town of Wagga Wagga, the hostility between the two neighbours peaks during one fateful backyard cricket match. Dougie and his friends accidentally hit a ball that kills Edward’s prize winning cat, Dexter. The cat then unfortunately falls into a roaring BBQ and is instantly cremated, leaving behind the ashes of the feline. Dougie’s film making son captures the footage of the mishap and uploads it online and the clip goes viral. The two foes then hatch the idea of a backyard cricket match. The winner gets to keep the ashes of Edwards deceased cat as an accolade to show off to the whole neighbourhood.
The story is a delightful traditional underdog genre that many Australians can relate to. The film explores Australian values and traditions such as loyalty, the sporting subculture and friendship as it uses excessive use of cricket analogies and the word “mate”.
The supporting cast does a great job of keeping with the cleverness of the film, with each member of Dougie’s backyard cricket team haling from a different cricket loving nation. This ranges from the token New Zealander (Jamie Way), sport fanatic Indian (Waseem Khan), Australian pub bar tender (John Waters) and Spock (Damian Callinan), the stand-up comedian of the group. The group dynamics is what really pulls the film together with the charisma and friendship a crucial point of the movie as a whole.
Williamson’s character is deliberately stereotypical, playing the English villain complete with a condescending laugh, spoilt cat, and typical use of the word “convict” when speaking about Australians.
The focal use of humour throughout the film is often predictable with many targeted jokes directed at the stereotypical Australian suburban lifestyle, but regularly hits its target audience and is authentically funny for the viewer. The mockery of past Australian cricket players are an easy catch for any sport loving viewer, which keeps the amusing plot well-balanced.
It’s lighthearted clichés are paired with the essential Australian soundtrack that is typical of a backyard gathering such as well-known Australian, the Angels biggest hit, “Am I ever gonna see your face again”, which ties together the storyline between the two enemies.
England and Australia have a fierce rivalry, seen every two years in the historic Ashes series. The film celebrates a quintessential Aussie pastime that has its charm and joy perfect for families, and a lingering sense of the values that matter to all Australians.
By Jaylee Ismay