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From Einstein to slapstick-the Austrailians know best

Tearsheets: Allied Advertising

Suggested headline: From Einstein to slapstick: Aussies know best


Directed by Yahoo Serious.

Written by Yahoo Serious and

David Roach.

Starring Yahoo Serious, Odile le Clezio,

and John Howard.

Now playing at the Copley Place Cinema.


drop"I N 1905 HE DISCOVERED THE theory of relativity. In 1906 he discovered rock and roll." Yes, that's how Warner Brothers is selling this Australian comedy. The film does take a few liberties in describing the life and adventures of Albert Einstein. But what do you expect from a producer, director, writer, and star by the name of Yahoo Serious?

Young Einstein was released last December in Australia, where it rivaled Crocodile Dundee and Star Wars in box office popularity. This isn't surprising, considering how thoroughly Australianized the film is. (For starters, Einstein is born in the backwoods of Australia.)

At a press luncheon last April, though, Serious acknowledged that he wanted to relate to all possible audiences. Consequently, he employs flashy special effects, dazzling scenery, cartoonish sound effects, wild stunts, and a fantastic soundtrack (ranging from Icehouse to classical music). Unfortunately, this strategy makes the film only marginally satisfying for any particular audience type. There are many scenes that are overly drawn out or simplistic, and others have a complexity that seems out of place in a screwball comedy.

Unquestionably, the film's plot (or rather, the lack thereof) is a drawback. The blatant disregard for all historical facts and common sense strips all seriousness (no pun intended) from the movie. On the other hand, certain themes dreamed up by Serious (such as Einstein's romance with Madam Curie or the descriptions of various scientific theories) are carefully developed in the manner of a drama. But the pace of the film varies wildly, and the lack of continuity from scene to scene is unsettling.

Any advance description of the storyline would detract from the comedic shock value of the film. Even an exact historical knowledge of the details of Einstein's life will give no indication of the countless plot twists. Similarly, the only purpose of the acting is to create unbelievable characters personifying the extremes of human behavior. Stereotypes and anachronisms abound.

If the viewer is able to throw all dependence on reality to the winds before entering the theater, then Young Einstein might be very enjoyable. The camerawork is superb, and the rugged Australian outback is appealingly photographed. The soundtrack, which went platinum in Australia, is first rate, except where it is eclipsed by inane sound effects. The stunts are all performed by Serious himself, and the action sequences are amusing in their impossibilities. But although the jokes and plot can be very funny at times, the audience spends more time laughing at the film than with it.