Director/Music Design – Yahoo Serious, Screenplay – Warwick Ross, David Roch, Lulu Serious & Yahoo Serious, Producers – Warwick Ross & Yahoo Serious, Photography – Kevin Hayward, Music – Anthony Marinelli, Maurice Sheldon & Tommy Tycho, Special Effects Supervisors – Frank Ceglia & Steve Courtley. Production Company – Serious Entertainment
Yahoo Serious (Ned Kelly), Melora Hardin (Robin Banks), Hugo Weaving (Sir John), Alexei Sayle (Major Wib), John Pinette (Sam Delance), Bob Maza (Dan Kelly), Kathleen Freeman (Mrs Delance), Anthony Ackroyd (Joe Kelly), Martin Ferrero (Ernie), Don Stallings (Hank), Tracy Mann (Miss Twisty)
Ned Kelly is the latest descendant of the famous bank-robbing Kelly Gang. Ned and the extended Kelly family live at Glenrowan Hotel on Reckless Island in the middle of an Australian national park. Ned makes frequent ventures forth to rob banks but only ever redistributes the money to the poor. This incurs the wrath of bank CEO Sir John who vows to stop Ned. Sir John comes up with a plan to buy up the park and sell Reckless Island to the Japanese. The only hope is for Ned to buy out the land first but to do so he needs a million dollars. Realising that he cannot rob banks for personal gain in Australia, he decides to head to America and rob banks there. By accident, he strays onto a film set. His gun-toting skills are thought to be the latest thing and he is quickly signed up to star in a film, ‘The Christian Cowboy’.
Australian director-writer-producer-star and general one-man band Yahoo Serious first appeared and had a big success with the almost indescribable gonzo comedy Young Einstein (1988). Young Einstein was a reasonable worldwide hit and even received a release in the US, where Yahoo Serious’s wacky and distinctly Down Under sense of humour wasn’t understood in the slightest. Serious then returned with the much bigger-budgeted Reckless Kelly, although this was not released in the US. Despite his clear appeal at home, Serious has only made on other film to date – Mr. Accident (2000).
Yahoo Serious’s films frequently overflow with a manic bubble of ideas that all seem to be heading in different directions. Reckless Kelly is probably the most polished of his films. It is certainly his best-budgeted film and this is something that at least allows Serious’s visual absurdism free reign. The film comes filled with often delightful visual gags concerning Serious’s bullet-proof constitution, his ramshackle suit of armour, the ever-present kangaroos on the island and of him dealing with flies by shooting them down. The most amusing of the sight gags is Hollywood exec John Pinette’s office, which comes filled with couches that have been designed like Studebakers, telephone receivers shaped liked gold-plated revolvers and machine-guns, and where in one corner his mother does the cooking.
Reckless Kelly is Yahoo Serious’s take on the true-life Australian folk hero Ned Kelly, who was an Outback outlaw in the 1870s-80s, robbing banks and wearing a cast iron suit of armour to avoid police bullets. [Several straight films have been made about Ned Kelly’s life, including Ned Kelly (1970), starring Mick Jagger, and Ned Kelly (2003), with Heath Ledger]. Of course, in Serious’s peculiarly innocent take, this is Ned Kelly reinvented as a comedic variant on Robin Hood.
As with most of Yahoo Serious’s films, Reckless Kelly comes with an overabundance of ideas. The Ned Kelly spoof soon gets overtaken by a surreal satire on Hollywood, which comes filled with all sorts of wacky images including the movie-within-the-movie The Christian Cowboy with Serious riding a neon-crucifix bedecked motorcycle and wielding a three-foot long Magnum, and later the image of tough guys spouting Shakespearean dialogue. It is all rather amiably silly.