Mad Max (1979)
Mel Gibson (Max), Joanne Samuel (Jessie), Hugh Keays-Byrne (T.C.), Steve Bisley (Goose)
Alright, it's time for me admit something. I know that on my years of writing this column celebrating the romantic comedy sub-genre I've been a little too obsessed with a certain time period. We all love Hugh Grant and the powerhouse that is Richard Gere/Julia Roberts is a force of nature that cannot (and I submit, will not) be denied. But movies didn't begin the late 80s. Did you know that movies were made as recently as the late 70s? You probably didn't, but I'm a film journalist so I do.
Well back in 1979, a revolutionary film was made called Mad Max and it remains of one of moviedom's greatest rom-coms. So who is Max and what's he gosh-darned mad about, anyway? I'll tell you!
Max (Mel Gibson) is a cop in Australia and he's mad because his marriage to his wife Jessie is falling apart because his job as an architect keeps him working long hours at the architecture plant and away from her at night. In sadness, Jessie (Joanne Samuel) goes looking for something to hold onto and falls into the arms of T.C. (Hugh Keays-Byrne), a wrong-side-of-the-tracks biker guy with a rough exterior but a warm heart.
Jessie loves Max but he just can't stop drafting blueprints or whatever and T.C. is always there, offering a shoulder to cry on and a kind word to make her feel better. Max's friend Goose (Steve Bisley) reminds him that architecting has been his dream since he was a little boy and if he doesn't architect up a hundred blueprints by next Monday he'll be fired for sure! The only problem is that that Saturday is Max and Jessie's anniversery.
Max misses his anniversary dinner but skips out earlier to try and patch things up, only to catch Jessie out on a date with T.C. Max storms out and Jessie comes to the realization that Max was the only man she ever really loved and that she was just using T.C. because he was there.
Jessie catches up with Max as he's delivering a speech to the board of shareholders about how architextiles are great but what's really important is love and spending time with your wife. Goose is mortified but the king shareholder stands up and applauds and tells Max that he wants him to do all his architextures from now on. Jessie, who just saw Max's impassioned speech runs to him and they kiss. The end.
Mel Gibson will forever be remembered as a Hollywood heart throb but he may have met his match in his romantic foil of Hugh Keays-Byrne. The man has a tenderness about him and his chemistry with Joanne Samuel is undeniable.
Mad Max is more drama than comedy but there are some great comedic beats to this movie. T.C.'s best friend Johnny (Tim Burns) is a laugh riot and may be one of the best comedy side-kicks of all time. Jessie is a bit of a klutz who keeps tripping over things and there's a good gag where Goose keeps getting hit in the nuts.
5 out of 5 Roses
Mad Max is available on VHS and Betamax.
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