Review: Postcards from Morgs
Comedy and surf flicks generally don’t mix well: there’s a long, inglorious history of ill-advised skits marring otherwise respectable productions, and so it’s a brave creative soul who dares have a crack at a full-on surf-com.
Writer and Director Vaughan Blakey (aided and abetted by brother Ron) is the man best equipped to stick his head above the parapet: gnarly work ethic honed in the surf publishing saltmines; stoked outlook on life; on par with his brother in the booth, (which is to say a cut above the Woz’s roster of commentators), and a funny bastard to boot.
The gags in Postcards From Morgs come thick and fast, and by the time the opening sequence is done – introducing the cast (Morgs, Mick, Owen, Tyler, Matt McGillivray, Molly Picklum and Mikey McDonagh) we already know not to sweat it if a comic punch misses the mark, the next larf is already being set up, and if that doesn’t connect either, not to worry, we’re all surfers so there’s not much of a fourth wall separating performer from audience anyway, and everyone’s having fun.
Postcards clocks in at a breezy half an hour, and its free, and you should definitely watch it. (You probably already have, so we’ll skip the usual play-by-play recap treatment Ding Alley provides for longer movies you gotta shell out for.)
With 2020 canned, Rip rookie Morgan Cibilic tries his hand at a DIY Search program: Occasional hilarity ensues as he meets and surfs with his heroes and his rivals along a 200 kilometre stretch of Oz East Coast.
It’s easy to write off a hit ‘n’ miss comedic effort like this, but to do so is to overlook the exponential effort required in the undertaking. It’s far easier to whack some action to music, throw in some super-8 grainy black and white art texture between sections and call the thing an art statement.
For all the near-misses, there’s moments that genuinely land, and there’s something sweet and endearing about non-actors prepared to have a go. And the directors and editors are skilled and experienced enough to know what helps get gags over the line, even if some are the oldest techniques in the book: keep an ear out, for example, for the This-Is-Funny Ragtime music backing the surf shop skit. This isn’t a criticism: it’s runs on the board for Vaughan and co and I really hope he gets to do more of this stuff because he’s a rare one.
Wasn’t there, obvs, so can’t say this with certainty, but I do imagine Vaughan’s energy and presence on location infected his cast with the confidence they could pull it off. Special props to young Morgs for fully committing to his lines and his hoots and his Yeowws. There’s nothing lamer than a half-hearted Yeoww, so well done to the lad.
Jesus, enough cultural deconstruction already Murdoch. Tell us about the surfing you fucking wanker.
Maybe it’s 2020’s dearth of comps to watch, but I absolutely loved every bit of the surf action in this. The waves – rifling rights, breakwall wedges and Byron shire beachies – are shot beautifully at their wintry best, and the entire cast demonstrate repeatedly why they’ve got the Curl contracts and we don’t: vintage Mick; Morgs looking super accomplished and smooth; gratifying to see Tyler surfing strong. And for all the hundreds of gorgeous forehand rail turns, my favourite moment, hands down, would be Molly Picklum’s backhand belt at 21:37, which is kind of fitting, as the Run-Morgy-Run showdown with Molly just beforehand is golden.
The music selection is similarly strong. Again, I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been deprived my usual diet of surf content this year, but the soundtrack rocks (both literally and descriptively). That’s another benefit of the script/skit format, it punctuates and amplifies the effect of the Rawk every time it kicks in. Jack McCoy always had a knack for picking great music, and you can feel Jack’s legacy in the rhythm of this lil’ film.
And here’s the strangest thing: first time I watched this, for whatever reason, I thought it was a bit ordinary. I enjoyed it heaps more second time around. What’s that about?
On the surface, Postcards From Morgs is a harmless, fun, daggy and self effacing effort. But anyone underestimates Rip Curl at their own peril. Claw and Singding’s founding DNA – shrewdness dressed up as larrikin – is alive and well. In a year where no-one can Search for shit, they’ve made a great Search short that introduces their new marquee fella without shunting anyone aside. Concerns about post-sale Rip Curl losing their moxy appear happily unfounded.
Where Hurley are doing Hello Kitty collabs, and the Woz continue to tally sin after sin against the spirit of Huey with not the slightest sense of irony or self awareness, it’s unreal to have endearing and spirited Oz content restore the faith.
As Cormac McCarthy wrote, “You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.” And so a parting thought: had the world not shut down, the Curl’s international team might have had roles in this. Which means that though we were cruelly deprived of Mason Ho’s deft comedic presence, it might have been hard for Gabs to ‘find his motivation’, as they say in the biz. Reoww!
// GRA MURDOCH