With The Merger, writer/lead actor Damian Callinan has helped to create the finest Australian comedy since The Castle. Its combination of out right laughs, social commentary and heartfelt moments is a winning combination. It dips into Australiana and shows the contrast between how Aussies like to see themselves and how they really are.
Callinan plays Troy Carrington, a football player who had a quick and inglorious pro career and has returned to the small country town of Bodgy Creek to live out his days. He has become somewhat of a recluse after his embarrassingly short footie career and becoming a town outcast by helping via a protest to close down the town’s main business, a lumber mill.
He spends his days making bad wine on the farm he inherited from his late father. His life changes dramatically when he meets the young boy Neil Barlow (Rafferty Grierson) and his mother Angie (Kate Mulvany). Angie talks Troy into helping save the local football club, which he does by convincing a rag-tag group of immigrants into joining the club. This does not sit well with many of the locals.
The film wears its heart on its sleeve but this is one of its charms, that and lambasting redneck humour in the kindest possible way. The way things come together at the end while being completely predictable is still utterly charming and not devoid of making a statement. Sugar makes the medicine go down easy.