Boys' club makes last pitch for life

Club Cricketers on tour in India.
Club Cricketers on tour in India.
MIFF 2012 club cricketers.

MIFF 2012 club cricketers.

THOUGH it will forever be known as ''that cricket film'', director Boyd Hicklin insists Save Your Legs isn't really about sport.

''We're calling it a bromantic comedy,'' he says. ''The sport is a spine that allows us to pick up this bunch of wacky guys, take them to India and keep them moving and meeting interesting people.''

The comedy, which had its premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival last night, stars Stephen Curry as Teddy, the club president of the Abbotsford Anglers Cricket Club, Damon Gameau as Stav, the flashy master batsman whose wife, kids and looming renovation seem inexcusably more important (in Teddy's eyes) than the club, and Brendan Cowell as Rick, whose Peter Pan existence is about to end thanks to an unexpected pregnancy and an impending marriage.

Teddy organises a tour of India as a last bid to keep the band together. Needless to say, it doesn't go quite as planned.

''The great thing about cricket is there's a lot of standing around and talking,'' Hicklin says. ''What other sport can stop and allow the two lead characters to chat about their relationships on the pitch?''

Though the story grew out of a real-life club tour in 2001 and Hicklin's resultant 2005 documentary, the new film is a different beast. ''It's kind of about heterosexual men breaking up,'' says Cowell, who wrote the screenplay. ''I think this film really talks about the love between guys and how hard it can be when men get to their mid-30s and go, 'You know what, I'm going to renovate and get married and I'm not going to be at the pub for the 10 pints on Friday night. I actually want to stay home and watch Downton Abbey with my girlfriend.'

''We're boys our whole lives and when boys get together they still behave like they did at high school. It's just that we suddenly have adult things to deal with.''

Hicklin knows that scenario well. In 2001, it was a snap decision to make the documentary. ''A friend said, 'We're going to India to play cricket, we've got a five-week tour', and I said, 'Yep, all right, I'll come to that,' '' he says. ''If somebody threw that same scenario at me now, there's mortgage, kids, renovations … It becomes impossible. And I think the film tries to balance both sides of that story.''

Save Your Legs opens in Melbourne but most of it was shot over seven weeks in India, working with the production team that had worked on Slumdog Millionaire and Mission: Impossible. "They closed down Bombay for the latter," Hicklin says. "When our little film came in they thought, 'Oh, we can handle this one'."

"Yes, but they had to deal with us," chips in Cowell.

No tour of India is complete without a bout of Delhi belly, and this shoot was no exception. ''There was a brief moment in Varanasi where all three of our leading actors were shadows of their former selves,'' says Hicklin.

On the day Gameau was to shoot a crucial scene in which he arrives by boat, hungover from a night of partying, the actor was laid out with gastro. ''I had to talk him off what he thought was his deathbed by telling him I'd have to rewrite his big scene,'' says Hicklin. ''Like a trouper, he jumped out of bed in his pink suit and he did it.''

No surprise to Cowell there. ''You threaten an actor with taking away a great entrance,'' he says, ''and suddenly they spring to life.''

Save Your Legs screens at MIFF next Sunday and is on general release from next January.

■ The Age is a festival sponsor.

This story Boys' club makes last pitch for life first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.