Bad Boys

Bad Eggs is a great new Australian comedy, but it’s no Crackerjack, says Mick Molloy. Bob Franklin disagrees.

‘I’m sick of the sound of my own voice,’ Mick Molloy confesses as I greet him and fellow Bad Eggs star Bob Franklin. All morning they’ve been doing breakfast radio and press interviews and this is the last one before lunch. Looking tired and dishevelled they flop down on a large couch, but despite the pair’s fatigue, I soon discover that Molloy and Franklin delight in making each other laugh.

Molloy and Franklin are nearing the end of a promotional tour for Bad Eggs, a new Australian comedy/police thriller, in which they play a couple of incompetent Victorian cops who stumble into the unscrupulous world of police corruption.

While Molloy is well known to Australians, Franklin is less so despite his appearance in The Craic (1999) and television work with Jimoine. No surprise then that Tony Martin, who wrote and directed Bad Eggs, describes Franklin as ‘the most underrated comic working in Australia’.

The quieter of the duo, Franklin’s surreal deadpan humour lightens the mood if ever things look like getting deep and meaningful – but it’s Molloy’s ‘larrikin charm’ that dominates the interview.

I begin by hitting them with a hypothetical: Bad Eggs makes it big, soon Hollywood beckons them with offers of superhero roles. Who could they see themselves playing? English born Franklin quips ‘Penfold’ from Danger Mouse, which makes sense in a weird kind of way. Molloy, however, opts for the Phantom. ‘I just think there’s something about getting around in purple tights,’ he says. ‘Purple tights – it’s a dream come true. The power is in the tights.’

From 1995 to 1998 the as yet tightless Molloy dominated the airwaves on the popular radio show ‘Martin/Molloy’ with fellow ‘Late Show’ star and Bad Eggs director Tony Martin. Having directed one another in sketches for over 15 years, for Molloy, taking directions from Martin was nothing new. Nor was it an issue, apparently, working with a cast of fellow comedians such as Judith Lucy, Alan Brough and Shaun Micallef.

‘I’m well aware that comedians can be a pretty full-on group,’ says Molloy. ‘You only have to go backstage at a comedy benefit and they can be dangerous rooms. But this group of people have been knocking around together for so long I think there’s a realisation at the end of the day that you’re all in it together.’

Indeed, much of the promotion for Bad Eggs has been amusingly self-deprecating, with cast and crew spending most of their time making fun of each other. Franklin, for instance, says that it wasn’t intimidating having Tony Martin as a director because ‘nobody respected him’. And Franklin himself cops a bit from Molloy: ‘I did feel Bob had a lot of the easier laughs and I was doing the heavy lifting. But that said he couldn’t have played my sidekick in better fashion. He’s a good kid.’

Bad Eggs also features some of Australia’s most well respected actors, including Bill Hunter, Robyn Nevin and Nicholas Bell. What was it like working with such heavyweights? ‘I think they learnt a lot,’ deadpans Molloy, who is quickly backed by Franklin: ‘They’ll go off from here to bigger things I think.’

Bad Eggs mocks its authority figures in a typically ‘Australian’ way, but is it important to make films that reflect our unique culture? ‘I don’t think it should be self-conscious,’ says Molloy. ‘Everything we make here by nature is earthed in an Australian sensibility. It’s more a case of not trying to take out the Australianness.’ Franklin concurs, ‘When you try to homogenise something, you actually just make it unacceptable for everyone.’

Last year Molloy co-wrote, co-produced, directed and starred (without Franklin) in the successful feature Crackerjack (2002). But which is the cracker? Is Bad Eggs is better than Crackerjack? Molloy snorts and declares, ‘Absolutely not!’ There is a pause and then Franklin quietly answers, ‘Basically yes, only due to one big difference.’ Molloy rolls his eyes and mutters with exaggerated disgust, ‘Franklin – the Franklin factor.’

As the interview draws to a close I ask them about the promotional side of filmmaking and Molloy reveals that he hates reading his own quotes because he sounds like a ‘pompous fucking idiot.’ But pompous is the last word anyone would use to describe these guys. They are just two average blokes who happen to love a laugh. As I leave, the two are joking about performing mime in the Bourke Street Mall.

Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 184, 2003

© Thomas Caldwell, 2003