Kath & Kim: articles

US Kath & Kim fails

THE debut episode of the American version of Kath & Kim is 22 minutes of disappointment.

The funny moments are few and far between - and jokes that do prompt a smile or a giggle are far from the laugh-out-loud guffaws which came regularly during the Australian original.

Veteran comedy star Molly Shannon does an able job as effervescent, ever-cheery mum Kath, but her considerable talent seems wasted - with the rare comic moments coming across as contrived and awkward.

Her co-star Selma Blair is nothing short of disappointing as spoilt daughter Kim.

Blair, who has previously shone in small roles and stolen films like Cruel Intentions and The Sweetest Thing, seems to be over-acting the whole episode - all obvious glares and exasperated sighs.

For all of Hollywood starlet's moaning in recent interviews about the weight she has put on for the role, Blair certainly has not gone to physical extremes for the character.

She is a far cry from Gina Riley's vanity-free portrayal of Kim and Blair certainly hasn't followed in the footsteps of method actor Renee Zellweger, who packed on the pounds to play British singleton Bridget Jones.

Sure, Blair's wardrobe of short short and skimpy halterneck tops does show off a slight muffintop — but her arms and legs still look stick-like.

Mikey Day, who plays newlywed Kim's estranged husband Craig, is completely unlikeable with his dumb "totally dude" mentality.

The 28-year-old unknown is no Peter Rowsthorn, whose portrayal of the pathetic Craig in the Aussie version proved both hilarious and sadly touching.

John Michael Higgins, who plays sandwich shop owner Phil Knight, is a much-needed bright spark in the US adaptation.

The veteran comedy actor is a longtime member of director Christopher Guest's ensemble troop in films like Best In Show — and he shines in the role made famous by Aussie funnyman Glenn Robbins as Kath's hapless husband-to-be.

The show is due to premiere on American television next week (October 9) but US network NBC, which is behind the new adaptation, has released the debut episode for free download on iTunes — no doubt in an effort to try to drum up buzz for the series, which has been slammed by many critics.

Australian audiences will likely be confused by some of the US-specific references, including chain restaurant Applebees, homewear stores Z-Gallerie, womens gym Curves and television host Lisa Rinna.

What made the Australian show funny was the caustic undertone, with the characters seemingly oblivious to the jokes.

In the US adaptation, the two main characters annoyingly narrate their thoughts in voice-overs at points throughout the episode

The credits are pumped-up with cheesy American glitz and campy music, with the brightly dressed mother-daughter duo walking through an American shopping centre to a synthed-up remix of Scissor Sisters' Filthy Gorgeous.

NBC has obviously had quite a budget when it comes to getting the rights to play songs during the episode, with numbers by Cher and Britney Spears also featuring in the premiere.

The celebrity mentions come thick and fast — with Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Melanie Griffiths, Cher, Larry King, Melania Trump, Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner all garnering a quick airing in the first episode.

The show's opening credits reference the show's Australian heritage with the line "based on the episode "Sex" of the Australian series written by Gina Riley and Jane Turner" — who are both also listed as co-executive producers — but not much from the Aussie original remains.

Sure, the tacky clothing and home décor are both amusing but it seems like the new show's creators have spent more time on the aesthetics than the heart of the show.

It's all style — well, ridiculous visual splendour — and no substance.

By Peta Hellard
October 03, 2008
The Daily Telegraph