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First Look Review - THE A PLATE

Comic capers in a used car lot.


Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Terre Weisman

Starring: Shane Jacobsen, Sam McMurray, Julie Ann Emery, Priscilla Barnes, Erika Smith



"Thankfully, The A Plate jettisons the limited chauvinism of its opening scenes to ultimately become a film that is funny, charming and well worth a test drive."


Hey laydeez, what about those car salesmen, eh?! Phwoar. Take down that Athena poster with the ripped lad cradling a baby, and never mind your ‘hey girl’ Gosling memes: blokes that sell cars, they’re all the man you’ll ever need. Reeking of Lynx and the victory of a 20% commission, resplendent in their C&A suits, don’t you just go weak at the knees? All that dirty talk of interest free credit, of forecourt prices, doesn’t it get your motor running?
No? Well, you clearly don’t exist in the universe of The A Plate then, wherein such retailers are prized as modern Adonides, able to sweet talk any female customer into a dodgy sale, and exchange floor mats for sexual favours, simply because they are just so damn irresistible. Take Jay (Shane Jacobsen), a player who seems to have it all. Jay always wanted to be a car trader, and here he is, living a Confessions of a Car Dealer-esque lifestyle along with his fellow motor merchants, making sales on the forecourt, breaking hearts off of it. It’s not enough for Jay though, because he covets the ‘A Plate’, a registration number of glittering prestige, which can only adorn the overpriced jalopy the boss of the dealership (in this case Dick, played by Sam McMurray) peddles about in. If Jay gets this, it will mean that he’s king of the entire lot!
Thing about the world of car sales, Jay explains, is that ‘there’s a good reason everyone hates car dealers - no one understands the business’. Or perhaps it’s because, on the evidence of The A Plate, they’re all charmless gits stuck in an unappealingly misogynist world of petty competition and shallow affections. However, just when you begin to think that every woman in the film is going to be a pneumatic door mat on the lookout for free floor mats, enter Andrea (Julie Ann Emery), the sort of gal who doesn’t automatically swoon to Jay’s shtick, preferring to hang out in coffee shops with her laptop, being a freelance writer for music publications (which, in the hierarchy of such things, is second only in the rank of awesome to freelance writer for movie blogs …). Inevitably, Jay falls for Andrea, and, of course, she’s the daughter of Dick. AWKWARD!
And so, half an hour into The A Plate, the film changes gear, switching lanes from leery lad-com to a character driven romantic comedy, which is actually rather lovely and quite amusing for the most part. Sure, it’s still the sort of film that finds smoking pot amusing in and of itself (old people on pot: still hilarious?), but there also are neatly structured running jokes with cute pay offs (the can of whipped cream and its wayward sexual functions tickled my puerile SOH) and the film enjoys quick, deadpan dialogue, especially when exploring the burgeoning chemistry between Jay and Andrea. When the complex, well managed farce of The A Plate begins in earnest - Jay zooming Dick, Jay being played by Dick’s Wife, Andrea in the middle - the sexism of the start of the film feels even more pointless (the film has better things to offer), and also, in contrast, ultimately more witless than offensive.
The performances in The A Plate are great, and it has a well realised intent to entertain. Like a boy racer skidding through the bad roads though, in terms of tone The A Plate is all over the place, a voiceover conceit is all but abandoned half way through, and even the ‘A Plate’ plot motivation sort of gets lost as well. Thankfully though, The A Plate also jettisons the limited chauvinism of its opening scenes to ultimately become a film that is funny, charming and well worth a test drive.




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