The Wog Boy
Main Cast Members
Steve/Steve's Mum/Steve's Dad Nick Giannopoulos
Frank Vince Colosimo
Celia O'Brien Lucy Bell
Annie O'Brien Abi Tucker
Dominic John Barresi
Nathan Stephen Curry
Tran Hung Le
Van Trent Huen
Raelene Beagle-Thorpe Geraldine Turner
Derryn Hinch Derryn Hinch
Supervisor Kym Gyngell
Tony the Yugoslav Costas Kilias
Theo Tony Nikolakopoulos
Mr Walker Charles 'Bud' Tingwell
Director Aleksi Vellis
Script Writer Nick Giannopoulos
& Chris Anastassiades
Producers Nick Giannopoulos
& John Brousek
Associate Producers Kay Dyson
& Nanette Fox
Line Producer Adrienne Read
Executive Producer Roger Rothfield
Cinematography Roger Lanser
Film Editor Suresh Ayyar
Original Music Cezary Skubiszewski
Casting Kay Dyson
& Nanette Fox
Production Designer Bernadette Wynack
Art Director Daryl Mills
Costume Design Paul Warren
Distribution & Release
Australian Cinema Distributor 20th Century Fox
Australian Cinema Release February 24, 2000
Australian Video Release November 22, 2000
Video Distributor Fox Home Entertainment
New Zealand 4th May 2000
Greece 20th November 2000
Germany 21st December 2000
Iceland (video release) 19th May 2001
The Australian Film Finance Corporation
Rated M 15+
Box Office Takings
First Week Earnings = $1,536,098
Total Earnings= $11,205,393
The film failed to interest commercial backers while in production, Nick Giannopoulos put part of the money up himself, about $2.5million.
It was only the 13th film in Australian history to pass the $10million mark.
The film claimed top spot in the Australian box office charts, knocking off The Talented Mr Ripley, The Green Mile and American Beauty.
Nick Giannopoulos was awarded the Australian Comedy Star of the Year in 2000 by the 55th annual Australian International Movie Convention on the Gold Coast.
The film beat the 12-year box office record held by Crocodile Dundee 2.
It reaped the biggest opening weekend of all time for an Australian film.
Costume designer Paul Warren was nominated for an AFI award for 'Best Achievement in Costume Design'.
It hauled $2,033,549 over the Thursday to Sunday period. That's more than $10,000 on each of its 198 screens.
Star, co-writer and producer, Nick Giannopoulos is basically the man behind this film. He was originally a stand-up comedian but began his career on television in Acropolis Now. He is best known for the stage plays Wog-O-Rama and Wogs Out of Work. He has played almost the same character in all of these shows.
Vince has worked on numerous Australian shows including Chopper (Dominik, 2000) and has been a part of Giannopoulos' stage productions.
Lucy has starred in many Australian television series, in particular Murder Call.
This is only Abi's second film; she has also worked on television series such as Heartbreak High.
Geraldine worked on a number of films in the 1970s and 80s, including Careful, He Might Hear You (Shultz, 1983).
The director of the film is also not new to the film industry. He wrote and directed Nirvana Street Murder (1990), directed The Life Of Harry Dare (1994), and worked on a number of Australian television series.
John was also a co-producer on Sensitive New-Age Killer (Savage, 2000), location manager on Jackie Chan's First Strike (Tong, 1997) and production accountant on Idiot Box (Caesar, 1996).
Chris is the writer of the new film Yolngu Boy (Johnson, 2001), and has written numerous scripts for Australian television series, including Acropolis Now.
Roger is a well-known cinematographer and has worked on such films as Peter's Friends (Branagh, 1992), Maybe Baby (Elton, 2000) and Much Ado About Nothing (Branagh, 1993).
Suresh has worked on many films including such Australian films as Bad Boy Bubby (de Heer, 1993) and All Men are Liars (Lee, 1995).
The following sources were helpful in my search for information:
http://infilmau.iah.net/reviews/thewogboy.htm - This site is called "In film Australia" and provides a review of the movie.
http://www.michaeldvd.com.au/Reviews/WogBoy.asp - This page has a review of not only the movie but also its technical production such as the quality of the audio. It's interesting but some of the most basic information (such as the release date) is wrong.
http://smh.com.au/news/0008/09/features/features10.html - This is a web version of the Sydney Morning Herald article detailing Giannopoulos' comedy star of the year award.
http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/01/12/australian.html - This is an online film journal financed by the AFC and has fantastic reviews and essays about Australian films.
http://bzine.bscene.com.au/entertainment/reviews/w/wogboy.html - This is a review of the film.
- This is a review by Triple J's Megan Spencer.
www.theage.com.au - This is the web site for The Melbourne Age, it has numerous articles (if you do a search on the site) about the film but they charge $1.10 to view the archives. I therefore can't tell you whether they're good articles because I refused to pay, but check it out for yourself.
http://community.news.com.au/logs/done/000623_ginnapoulos.htm - This is an interview with Nick Giannopoulos about the film and his upcoming events. Very interesting.
http://www.cameronkoo.com/wogboy.html - This is a scathing review by a freelance journalist. It has nothing constructive to say but is somewhat entertaining:
"From writers Chris Anastassiades and Nick Giannopoulos, and director Aleksi Vellis comes this low-brow insult to any intelligence one may possess no matter how much of a half-wit you may be. To experience this movie is comparable to hacking up a gigantic mucus discharge in public. It fails the adequacy test at all levels and with extremely high marks."
http://news.ninemsn.com.au/sixtyminutes/stories/2000_03_12/story_124.asp - This site has an excerpt of a 60 minutes interview with Nick Giannopoulos, pretty dodgy quality but worth a look.
http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/article_view.asp?Article_ID=3852 - Features Andrew Urban's review and an interview with Nick Giannopoulos.
http://efilmcritic.com/hbs.cgi?movie=3973 - This site is called efilmcritic and features a pretty negative review of the film:
"Is the awfulness of The Wog Boy Giannopoulos' fault? Absolutely. Move on, Nick. You're on the eighth victory lap now and the race was only 100m long."
http://news.ninemsn.com.au/sunday/film_reviews/article_436.asp - This is the Sunday program's review of the film. It features an interview with Nick Giannopoulos.
http://ozmovies.tripod.com/wog_boy_australian_box_office_performance.htm - As the URL suggests this site provides figures about the films box office performance.
www.imdb.com - Has reviews and information about release dates and cast and crew.
http://www.sbs.com.au/movieshow/movieshow_set.html - This is the SBS movie show review of the film.
I had very little trouble finding information about this film. The majority of it was found on the Internet. There are numerous sights that review the film and have interviews with Nick Giannopoulos. Newspaper articles are also available in web form.
Cinema Papers has nothing on the film, which I imagine is because it is too recent.
The information I found on the Internet was sufficient to answer any questions I had about the film. I simply used search engines and looked for 'The Wog Boy'.
"The wog boy: a comedy about love, politics, sex, religion, culture, cars and pizza, but not necessarily in that order."
Steve Karamitsis (Nick Giannopoulos) is the quintessential Melbournian 'wog'. He drives a fast car, wears gold jewellery and has entirely too much time on his hands. Steve spends his hours reading bingo at the local church, picking up chicks, hooning around in his car and dancing in classic Saturday Night Fever (Badham, 1977) style.
This is until an unfortunate run in with the Government. Steve reverses into the limousine belonging to the Minister for employment, Raelene Beagle-Thorpe (Geraldine Turner). He then sends them the bill for the damage.
Raelene swears revenge and begins a media slur campaign about him. Derryn Hinch crowns Steve 'Australia's Biggest Dole Bludger' on national television. Steve then sets out to clear his name. He becomes a 'wog boy', a little Aussie battler and the face of the Government scheme to battle unemployment.
In the midst of this Steve fights to get the girl, the Ministers PR manager Celia (Lucy Bell), to keep his best friend Frank (Vince Colosimo) and to ensure justice for all wog-boys.
Without giving too much away I can tell you that this film ends with the characters living happily ever after and don't worry the good guys win.
What the critics thought
It is almost unanimously thought that this film lacks depth and meaning despite the various issues it attempts to deal with. Its heart is in the right place though and there are enough laughs to sustain it.
Many criticisms of the film come from the belief that Giannopoulos is simply cashing in on the already popular wog humour he has used in his stage shows (Wog-O-Rama, Wogs Out of Work, Acropolis Now).
The jokes are over the top as is the stereotyping. However if taken at face value, as a gentle comedy, the Wog Boy has something to offer.
Critics believe it is simple but effective. It is entertaining and watchable and funny enough to keep you in your seat.
What I think
I can't say I agree with the critics about this film. Although I believe its watchable I do not believe it's humorous. The jokes are recycled and often just used for the sake of continuing the 'wog' stereotype. They are corny and made me cringe in some parts.
However, I do believe the plot is interesting and different. The writers at least attempted to create a story line unlike some films. The idea of the film is well crafted (though somewhat corny) therefore I was kept interested enough to want to know what happened next, despite the lame humour.
The film is light-hearted and does not attempt to be a serious social comment. It is a comedic portrayal of the life of stereotyped wog and nothing more.
Position in Australia
There is no doubt that this film attempts to celebrate multiculturalism in Australia. It is primarily about 'wog boys' and there is no denying the fact. The story begins with the arrival of Steve's parents from Greece, it tells of the taunts Steve received as a child for being a 'wog boy' and then his acceptance into Australian society in later life. Steve is Greek, Frank is Italian, Tony is Yugoslavian, Frank's apprentices are Asian and Celia and Annie are Australian. This is a broad mix of races and cultures and is an example of the mix found in Australia currently.
The film also deals with the issue of unemployment and the 'little Aussie battler'. Steve does not work and is, in all truth, a dole bludger. However, in true Australian style, he is made a hero for being a battler and a victim of the system. The politicians are made to be the villains and Steve the victim. It is a commonly held belief among Australians that the politicians do little but to help society but want to line their own pockets. Raelene Beagle-Thorpe is the personification of this. Standing up for the little guy is also characteristic of the Australian nature and Steve does just that.
It does not avoid the issues but pokes fun at them. It may shy away from actually dealing with them, but its main intention is to make us laugh so nothing more can be expected from it.
Australian National Cinema
This is not a typical low-budget low-exposure Aussie film. As I mentioned it knocked off all the Hollywood films playing on its weekend of release and although I don't know the total production cost Giannopoulos himself invested $2.5 million not to mention AFFC funding. Its success can be attributed to the reputation of the wog boy himself. The wog phenomenon has proved to be successful for Giannopoulos and his fans did not fail him in this venture. Triple J reviewer Megan Spencer calls it "wogsploitation", the use of "surefire jokes about concrete lions, salamis, discos, libidos and big cars" (http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/review/film/s108935.htm) and I do not disagree.
Australian audiences are not new to this kind of exploitation and stereotyping. The same can be said of The Castle (Sitch, 2000), though this time Spencer calls it "Oz-ploitation". The characters are over the top, stereotypes and yet damn funny. Australians like to laugh at themselves. The same story in an American environment would not strike the same chord because they are not the same audience. An American Wog Boy would be politically incorrect and the movie would not survive. It doesn't even have a single car chase or gun fight!
The Wog Boy is uniquely Australian in that it is the 'ocker film' revisited. Tom O'Regan states that ocker films rely on "forms of social typage" (O'Regan, Australian film in the 1970s: the ocker and the quality film, 1996:1) and are "explicitly geared to a local audience" (O'Regan, 1996:1). This is all true of The Wog Boy. The social typage in this case is the Greek/Italian Australian, the Aussie wog. As I said Steve is the quintessential Melbournian wog. He is not considered a Greek man from Greece, he is a Greek man from Australia which is an entirely different race as far as the film in concerned. The film is also geared to an Australian audience, as we know the wog story, it's been told in many forms and we come to recognise it as our own.
However is would be remiss of me not to point out that this film cashes in on the Hollywood genre. It is a comedy of errors with various subplots, all of which have a happy ending. It has a beginning, middle and end, creates problems and solves them, introduces tensions and relieves them. It can be considered 'mundane' in these terms. It is purely commercial: boy meets girl, girl hates boy, boy endears himself, girl loves boy, happy ending. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though, The Wog Boy is like Hollywood style and therefore good. Audiences are satisfied that they have seen a Hollywood movie with an Australian plot. I believe this has also attributed to the success of the film.
This film is the perfect combination of Australian creativity and Hollywood appeal. It does not attempt to impress the critics by being prestigious or different. It sticks to the tried and true Hollywood line with Australian characters, humour and issues and is a comedy not a social comment. Nick Giannopoulos himself said himself "I didn't make this film for the critics. I made it for the audience" (http://www.smh.com.au/news/0002/29/national/national14.html) and I believe that's exactly what he's done.