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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

The Wannabes

Criminal Ways (2003) on IMDb

Plot Overview

At Australia's Rising Stars '78, a black (“negrito”) Elvis impersonator (Gnarnayarrahe Waitairie) is summarily GONGED. Funny thing, Elvis Presley acquired prominence as a white boy who could sing like a black. Next, little Danny (8) is traumatically GONGED by mean talent judge Jimmy King (Michael Carman) who gives him his first ever Zero score. “Methinks the lady doth protest too much”—William Shakespeare. He wasn't that bad.

men's dance lineTwenty-five years later Danny (Nick Giannopoulos) is in a protracted slump until his mother (Chantal Contouri), proprietress of Madame Sally's Talent School, gets him a gig breaking in a new group of children's enter­tainers. This unlikely, motley crew consists of silent watcher Adrian (Costas Kilias), their leader Marcus (Russell Dykstra), his ladies man brother Hammer (Ryan Johnson), his funky nephew Stewie (Tony Nikolakopoulos), and his lovely sister Kirsty (Isla Fisher.) They're hardened criminals planning to infiltrate a rich kid's birthday party as enter­tain­ment in order to heist the diamond necklace of the lady of the house Aurora 'Rory' Van Dyke (Lena Cruz). They need to learn but one song as “insurance” in case they're called upon to actually perform. Kirsty is sewing together their costumes.

Events take a sudden turn when the children like the lummoxes, the media propel them to stardom, and they rub shoulders with American screen idol Bill Gennaro (Felix Williamson)—he played lead in the block­buster, action film, “Busdriver” (“Have you paid your fare?”) Mrs Van Dyke is a fan of Gennaro and wants her own pound of flesh. Danny still wants to find out who his father is from the '60s sexual revolution.


Little Danny's mother had encouraged him to “Smile” at his 1978 talent debut. This will stand him in good stead later when trying to uplift the children, and it's the right way to play an audience. (Eph. 6:1) “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.”

(Eph. 6:2-3) “Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” This is in reference to one of the Ten Commandments: (Ex. 20:12) “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” Danny honored his mother (and father) by taking, from parental advice, years and years of classes in acting, singing, and dancing, all seemingly with­out advancing his career. Further­more, he took classes in Tai Chi (Karate)—learning how to fall—and in sewing—to make costumes. He followed parental encouragement to have “commitment” (“The show must go on”) sticking with a bunch of losers long after the audience has written them off. He ended up doing well because of it (romantically, too) and was set for a long run on stage. He dodged an assassin's bullet through an act of God (“It's a miracle.”)

The very final song of the movie, sung from a child's perspective, is how this kid hates taking advice and he ain't gonna do it. This song was popularized by talent that was made by observing miles of parental advice. Well, black Elvis was gonged off stage, too. Go figure.

Production Values

” (2003), originally titled “The Wannabes,” was directed by Nick Giannopoulos. It was written by Nick Giannopoulos, Chris Anastassiades, and Ray Boseley. It was shot on location at Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It stars Nick Giannopoulos, Russell Dykstra, and Isla Fisher. Giannopoulos is sublime as the dolt Danny, and Fisher is charming as the boss man's pretty sister. The rest of the cast are equally entertaining.

MPAA rated it R for language and some sexual content, although in my opinion unfamiliar words can be brushed off as down-under lingo, and the sexual content is not so much enlightening as baffling. The adult humor is raunchy but so is that of Kirsty's boy Oliver (Nicholas Fleming.) It's what one might expect from a criminal family.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

“Criminal Ways” was mildly amusing the first time I watched it. The second time was funnier, and the third was a riot. I attribute the progression to my American insensitivity to subtlety and slowly spaced punch lines. Once I was keyed in it won me over. It has an under­ground theme of under­valued parental advice. The music and dance numbers were good in their own right once they were polished off.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Officially Not Suitable for Children. Special effects: Well done special effects. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.