Having set an incredibly high bar with his previous works, We Can Be Heroes and Summer Heights High, Angry Boys is the weakest of Chris Lilley’s mockumentaries to date.
One of the most obvious problems from the outset is the bloated twelve episode structure which was a taught six for We Can Be Heroes and a slightly indulgent seven for Summer Heights High. Another major issue is the characters are not as empathetic as his previous creations but it’s certainly not all bad news.
The six characters at the crux of Angry Boys are the twins Nathan and Daniel Sims (characters from We Can Be Heroes), the former of whom has a hearing affliction which has worsened to the extent that the latter has offered one of his eardrums to him in a pioneering operation.
They are joined by Gran – the chief detention officer at the Garingal Juvenile Justice Centre (and the twins Grandmother), S.mouse – a rapper whose recent single has become a worldwide sensation even though the content is anodyne, and Blake – a former world surfing champion, and Jen – an overbearing Japanese mother of three.
As with his previous shows, the characters are so well defined that it is often necessary to remind yourself that it is Lilley playing all of these parts (with some excellent natural supporting characters filling out the rest of the cast). Whilst the rapidity of cross-cutting in Summer Heights High featured Jai’me, Jonah and Mr G effortlessly segueing from one scene to the next, Lilley takes his time with the development of Angry Boys, at times waiting for a swathe of episodes to pass before introducing some of the leading roles.
Gran is perhaps the most difficult character since – whilst openly racist and holding “Gotcha’s” which typically entail that young prisoners are promised a reprieve and an early release only to be brought short as they approach the gates of freedom and the joke is revealed to them – Lilley is perhaps most unconvincing portraying older women than he is teenage ones such as Jai’me and as such Gran comes across more as a caricature than a full blown character.
Perhaps the conflagration of three networks (HBO, BBC and ABC) has slightly weakened Lilley’s creative powers, though allegedly he was given total creative control of his work here – maybe one voice rather than three could have told him to reign in his output rather than practically exceed the running time of his previous outings with one show.
Released on DVD on Monday 15th August 2011 by 2entertain.
Watch a clip from the show…