We offer our suggestions on what scenes the Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman film can do without
A 2-hour-and-45-minute running time? Crikey! Patience may run longer Down Under. But we’re Americans and we’ve got things to do this holiday season. Hence, our viewer’s cut. (Warning: Spoilers follow!)
00:00 The beef-baron husband of Nicole Kidman is murdered in the outback. She travels to Australia and is met by Hugh Jackman.
-8 MINS. First scene to go: Kidman and Jackman meeting, bickering, and kicking off their sexual tension on the way to the ranch. (Sorry, ladies, this includes Jackman washing his bare chest by a campfire.)
00:50 Kidman refuses to sell the ranch. So now it’s time to drive the cattle to Darwin.
-28 MINS. Okay, here’s the first big chunk to get the ax. The cattle drive is peppered with backstory and moonlit caresses, but if you’ve seen City Slickers you’ve pretty much seen the rest. We’ll make a three-minute exception for the awesome stampede sequence.
01:30 The young half-caste boy Nullah, to whom Kidman has become attached, sees The Wizard of Oz.
-5 MINS. Not only are we hacking out this saccharine scene, but also every other reference — and there are a whole bunch — to The Wizard of Oz (we paid to see Kidman and Jackman, not Dorothy and Toto). That means nudge-nudge-wink-wink dialogue and treacly renditions of ”Over the Rainbow” on the harmonica.
01:40 Kidman and Jackman consummate their love under some artfully placed mosquito netting.
-0 MINS. Since we cut the earlier scene when Jackman’s world’s sexiest abs were on glistening parade, we’ll throw the female audience a bone here and keep this steamy love scene. You’re welcome.
2:00 Newsreels show the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. In the movie biz, they call this ”foreshadowing.”
-2 MINS. Let’s take a scalpel to the newsreel stuff and any other hint or mention of WWII and have the Japanese air raid on Darwin come as a total surprise! That way it’s more Hitchcockian.
2:05 Kidman, Jackman, and Nullah are separated in the fog of war. Will they ever reunite for a For Your Consideration group hug?
-40 MINS. …Take a wild guess. We’re all for feel-good endings, especially after 2 hours and 45 minutes of relentless melodrama. But this Oscar-friendly bit of third-act uplift seems like a foregone conclusion. Word is, director Baz Luhrmann shot at least three different finales for the film, but it’s hard to see how it could have wrapped up any other way. So let’s just skip straight to that heart-tugging, three-hankie climax and get those end credits rolling, shall we? We’ve got shopping to do.
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