Friday Film Review: Paperback Hero
Paperback Hero (1999)
Recently my old VHS player bit the dust after years of faithful service. So when I was looking to replace it, because I have tons of movies recorded over the years on tape, it dawned on me that VHS is in its twilight and I’d better come up with some way to save these movies which have not yet been transferred to DVD. So I bought a player that will allow me to transfer VHS to DVD. Now, before anyone gets their knickers in a knot, these are movies I’ve either bought or recorded off TV and I don’t plan on turning it into a money making enterprise so I figure I’m all right. Right?
As I began pawing through my many, many tapes, I saw this one – Paperback Hero – which I was fortunate enough to buy years ago. Why fortunate? Because the bloody thing doesn’t appear to be available any more. There are a lot of older movies, and not so older movies, that I am amazed have not been released on DVD yet. This is one of them.
Jack Willis is a roadtrain driver (long haul driver for us in the US). During his trips, he’s written a romance novel which has unexpectedly become a best seller in Australia. Now his publicist has shown up in Lucktown looking for him. Only problem is she thinks his name is Ruby Vale.
The real Ruby Vale, is a friend of Jack’s and he sort of “borrowed” her name because no “man’s man” in Australia would write a romance novel. Jack has to act quickly to get Ruby to go along with the charade which includes a publicity stint in Sydney. The only reason she agrees is that the publisher has agreed to pay the expenses for her wedding to local veterinarian, Hamish.
But as the two travel to Sydney and begin the public engagements, Ruby finds herself looking at Jack in a whole new light. Will she still marry Hamish when the truth comes out? Or does Jack have a chance with the girl he’s secretly loved all along?
I’ll be honest and say that this is another “feel good” type romance. It’s a chick flick all the way. But when I get the chance to watch Hugh Jackman for an entire movie, flick away, baby. It’s also got Claudia Karvan, who really ought to be better known in the US, playing Ruby.
Jackman and Karvan project great chemistry. They’re mates as well as, in the end, lovers. She obviously feels something for him from the beginning or why else would she agree to the trouble and hassle of pretending to be the writer “Ruby Vale” to help Jack out? And Jack, while acting as just a friend, does everything he can to try and ensure that Ruby gets what he thinks she wants in life.
The secondary cast are fabulous. No one comes off as a “character” just for form’s sake but rather as people who will go the mile for each other. I’m afraid I only recognized Jeanie Drynan who played Muriel’s mother in “Muriel’s Wedding,” but I wish I knew more of them. They all do a great job.
I laughed as poor Jack pretends he didn’t write this “girly, schmaltzy stuff” – which turns out to be anything but, as we see during scenes in which Ruby is reading the book on the road to Sydney. It’s also nice to see these two as friends who can kid and joke with each other – as Ruby does when she teases Jack about how he writes the sex scenes in the book. Their karaoke scene is hilarious. Given what’s been said about how Jack hates to fly, his declaration of love to Ruby is funny and touching. I also like that Hamish isn’t turned into a villain in order to break up the engagement. He’s a nice guy who just isn’t right for Ruby.
The Aussie accents are easily understandable and the views of Queensland are amazingly beautiful and I wish this film were more widely available. No, it’s not cinema at its finest, but it’s a fun film which leaves me with a smile on my face.