The Nugget (2002)

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Released 5-Mar-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Dolby Digital Trailer-Egypt
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-'Rove Live'
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Alternate Ending
Outtakes
Deleted Scenes-6
Easter Egg
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 93:04 (Case: 97)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (74:32) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Bill Bennett
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Eric Bana
Stephen Curry
Dave O'Neil
Belinda Emmett
Peter Moon
Vince Colosimo
Max Cullen
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music Nigel Westlake


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    The good old-fashioned fable. For the record, my dictionary defines a fable as a story, especially a supernatural one conveying a moral, often with animals as characters. This is just about a perfect description of The Nugget. It's a story, with a minor supernatural element, has a definite moral, and the way Dave O'Neil's character demolishes a meat pie, the animal part is also taken care of.

    Eric Bana, Stephen Curry, and Dave O'Neil star as three good mates known locally as the Black Tar Gang. They work for the local council on the roads, fixing all manner of potholes and the like. In true Aussie bloke tradition, the lads refer to each other by their nicknames. Lotto (Bana) is the unofficial leader of the gang. He's called Lotto since he is just about the unluckiest bloke around and a true mug punter. Whenever he buys a lotto ticket it always loses. Stephen Curry is Wookie, an earnest conspiracy theorist, who swears he once spotted a Chewbacca look-alike in his backyard (hence the name). O'Neil is Sue, so named since the day he found a finger in a meat pie and sued the makers for a hundred grand. The boys are as good buddies as you can get. When they are not working, they spend their weekends picking over their mining lease in the country, with the ever-present hope that one day they might strike it lucky.

    Of course with a title like The Nugget, it only stands to reason that the one big day does arrive. The boys uncover what will turn out to be the largest gold nugget ever found on the planet. Immediately thoughts of instant wealth fill their brains. Rather than cashing in the large rock, they decide to keep it quiet while they buy up the other leases in the area. Unable to stop themselves, the boys spend up big on plasma TVs and other expensive toys on credit. Their wives are the voice of reason in this caper, especially the ever-suffering Cheryl (Belinda Emmett), the wife of Lotto. She has dreams of new cars and houses but still manages to see past the instant riches and the need to pay the bills. Unfortunately, Wookie's wife Darlene (Sallyanne Ryan) sees a small loop-hole in the mining lease that effectively means the nugget belongs to her and Wookie alone. This starts the unravelling of a friendship as greed begins to manifest itself among the trio and their spouses.

    Further complicating matters is the owner of the local car wreckers. Ratner (Peter Moon) is a swindling, conniving fraudster who senses something big has happened to the three road workers. In partnership with Dimitiri (Vince Colosimo), the local fast-food entrepreneur, the dastardly duo hatch a plan to pinch the nugget from under the noses of the naive threesome. Greed is alive and well in the town, and everyone wants to get their hands on the gold.

    The film is narrated in part by a mysterious and garrulous old prospector named Wally (Max Cullen). It never actually transpires what Wally's role is, but he gives the boys some sage advice and warnings of dire consequences should they continue with their greedy quest to buy up the other leases.

    Something just didn't quite click for me with The Nugget. I watched it twice to see if I was in the wrong sort of mood the first time. But even the second time, and feeling much happier, it left me with a feeling of non-closure at the end. Greed or avarice is one of the seven deadly sins, and is central to the plot here, but being woven into the strands of a comedy it all seems to get lost in the rather contrived climax that leaves a few too many openings. Maybe I'm being too harsh, but I think in trying to offer a comedy with a moral, the writers have stuck to the middle ground too firmly and offered too few laughs and not enough morality.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a fine transfer with basically no problems to report at all. Presented in the original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1, it also features 16x9 enhancement.

    This is a sharp and detailed video transfer that exhibits no problems at all with edge enhancement, shadow detail, grain or low level noise.

    The colours are really quite lovely, and are beautifully saturated with deep solid shades and the vibrant yellows and greens of the Aussie bush. Apparently the director of photography used filters to manage the light and this had the effect of enhancing the reds and greens for many of the outside shots. These colours really do shine and are deep and vibrant with a bright and fresh look to many of the scenes. There are no problems with colour bleed or oversaturation.

    I saw no MPEG artefacts. There is a tiny bit of aliasing on a couple of the usual surfaces, but this is hardly distracting. Film artefacts are present, but are so miniscule that they are virtually not worth mentioning.

    There is only one set of subtitles present, these being the English for the Hearing Impaired variety . Nicely presented in a yellow hue, they are mostly accurate.

    This is a dual layered disc. The layer change is pretty late in the film at 74:32. Located in the scene where Wookie and Darlene are arguing in their kitchen, it is excellently placed on a very still moment with no sound. Near on perfect.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    I love a good Australian film soundtrack, especially when we get a couple of really good Aussie songs thrown in. My only disappointment with this track is that the songs aren't played long enough. There are three soundtracks on the disc, these being English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks, and a Dolby Digital 2.0 commentary track. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack was my preferred listening choice. It exhibits excellent separation across the front speakers, really opening up wide when the score or other songs kick in.

    Dialogue is excellent with no audio sync issues to report.

    The score by Nigel Westlake is quite effective, though not remarkable enough to stand out from the pack. Various songs feature throughout, though most are only briefly played. Run To Paradise by The Choirboys, Beat The Mundane by Alex Lloyd, and Queen's We Are The Champions are among my favourites.

    There isn't a whole lot of surround use, but when called into action, they do provide a subtle and enveloping addition to the many outside sound scapes.

    The subwoofer gets a little use, but nothing over-the-top.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Dolby Digital Trailer - Egypt

Menu Animation & Audio

Audio Commentary (Bill Bennett -Director, Eric Bana, Stephen Curry, Dave O'Neil - Actors)

    Now this is good. Almost an act from the Melbourne Comedy Festival as the three lead actors swap jokes and anecdotes from the shoot. Director Bill Bennett chimes in as a sort of guiding hand keeping the lads focused on the task at hand. Screen specific and highly enjoyable.

Theatrical Trailer

    Narrated by Michael Caton, this 2:11 minute trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. It is actually quite funny as it portrays the film as a straight comedy. Worth a look.

Featurette - 'Rove Live'

    The golden boy from Channel Ten, Rove McManus, interviewing his partner and pal Belinda Emmett and Stephen Curry. Running for 10:58 minutes, this is also presented in the digital TV aspect of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. Very nice video quality and, as usual for Rove's interview segments, a few laughs are to be had. It is rounded out by a brief look at the world premiere of the film in Mudgee, with Ten entertainment reporter Angela Bishop doing the talking as the stars stroll by.

Interviews-Cast & Crew

    Extensive interviews with director Bill Bennett and most of the cast, including Eric Bana, Stephen Curry, Dave O'Neil, Belinda Emmett, Peter Moon, and Vince Colosimo. They generally avoid the usual self-congratulatory kudos and concentrate on the sticky questions such as "what attracted you to the script?" and "what's the character like that you play?". They are certainly extensive, and the comments from Bill Bennett and Eric Bana in particular are informative and enlightening. Total running time for all the interviews is a tad over 33 minutes.

Featurette-Behind The Scenes

    A fairly brief behind-the-scenes featurette, only running for 6:57 minutes. It focuses on the steam roller/car crush sequence, and the flying camera angle over Lotto's house.

Alternate Ending

    Something with the original ending didn't quite gel for me. I didn't quite get closure on just who or what the character of Wally (Max Cullen) was all about. This alternate ending answers that question quite nicely and I'm a little surprised it got the chop. Running for 3:49 minutes, it is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, but is of very ordinary quality. It is also not 16x9 enhanced.

Outtakes

    A couple of bloopers, dominated by the trouble Vince Colosimo had with the line "deep tissue massage". Total running time is 2:35 minutes.

Deleted Scenes

    Six deleted scenes in total, mostly featuring Lotto's nosy neighbours, played by Jean Kitson and Chris Haywood, running between 0:22 and 3:45 minutes.

Easter Egg

    Some entertaining banter between the three leads (Curry, Bana, O'Neil). Running for 5:26 minutes, you'll find this tucked away on the extras menu somewhere (I wouldn't want to spoil what is quite a tricky egg to find).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This title is yet to make an appearance in Region 1.

Summary

    I was a little disappointed the first time I watched The Nugget, but I think I was in a bad mood and didn't feel like being cheered up by a feel-good film with a moral. Then I watched it again when I was feeling much better, and it's grown on me a little, but something still isn't quite right. The story does offer some originality, and while marketed as a straight out comedy, is a little more subtle in its delivery than I was expecting. Perhaps this is a weakness of the thin script, or perhaps it was intentional. The three lead actors do work well together, with a real sense that they are mates coming through. It might be the last time we see Eric Bana in a small budget Australian film, if The Hulk delivers the goods later this year.

    The video transfer is excellent. Not quite top-shelf, but gold-plated nonetheless (that was a pun).

    The audio will certainly not stretch your speakers to demo status, but it is highly enjoyable all the same.

    The extras are well conceived, well executed, and offer broad and appealing quality.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Thursday, April 10, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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