WELCOME TO WOOP WOOP is one sick puppy, make that ‘demented dingo’, as this 1997 comedy from Australia is about as far off the charts of ‘normal’ as that sun-baked land is from Luxembourg. A notorious flop critically and commercially, it’s attained some measure of cult status for its cheerfully foul utter delirium. A head-scratcher (or some other part of the anatomy).
American zero ‘Teddy’ (Jonathan Schaech), a failed cockatoo smuggler, ends up in the arse-end of the Oz outback, and makes the wrong-head-thinking mistake of loaning his bod to ‘Angie’ (Susie Porter), a skip-the-subtle- and-hit-the-rug sex-kitten (more like a horny panther) who rocks him senseless (gotta love the endearment “Root me stupid!”), then literally knocks him cold. He wakes up in Woop Woop, a community of around 50 misfits, hippies, feral kids and bizarre old nutjobs ruled by ‘Daddy-O’ (Rod Taylor), Angie’s merrily psychotic papa. “Happy as a bastard on Father’s Day!”
Taken off the novel “The Dead Heart”, written by Douglas Kennedy; that title was not used probably because there was a 1996 film Dead Heart, a serious drama with Bryan Brown. Screenplay for this can of woop was by Michael Thomas, with assistance from the director, Stephan Elliot. Elliot’s clout rested on his success The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, but with WW bombing and then Eye Of The Beholder likewise reaping scorn he was sidelined for nearly a decade.
Outrageous (make that insane) and pointedly off-putting, but with some inspired patches of randy humor and a smashing, ferociously wild job from Rod Taylor, 67, light years and many beers from his four-decade vacation away from home.
The film cost $10,000,000 Australian dollars (approx $18,564,000 adjusted to 2017), then made just $527,346, almost all of it Down Under. Cash registers resounded to $35,471 in the US, 260th place for the year. Whoops Whoops.
With Dee Smart, Richard Moir, Maggie Kirkpatrick, Barry Humphries, Paul Mercurio, Rachel Griffiths and—wtf?—Tina Louise (!) 97 minutes.
* In 2016, Michael Winkler wrote a book on this woopster: “Fahfangoolah! The Despised and Indispensable Welcome to Woop Woop”, with a jacket teaser announcing the “worst Australian movie of all time, or invaluable cultural artifact?”
Rod Taylor: “I fell off the sofa laughing when I read the script….It was the most outrageous comedy I had ever read and certainly the most outrageous comedy I’d ever acted in. I usually do nice sophisticated comedies with Jane Fonda and people like that — gentlemanly roles. But here I am in Australia playing this bloody dinosaur with tattoos. It is just fantastic.”