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Film / Australian Rules

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Australian Rules is a 2002 sports drama directed by Paul Goldman.

The tiny, fictional Australian town of Prospect Bay has only its "Tidiest Town in Australia" award to be proud of. This changes when their team unexpectedly makes it into the finals of the local championship, largely thanks to the 16-year-old Aboriginal Dumby Red and his white best friend Gary Black. While the first half of the film is a more-or-less typical sporting underdog story, things get interesting after the match, when Dumbo is denied recognition for his skills because of their racist coach, re-igniting the tensions between the town’s white and Aboriginal community. Meanwhile, Gary begins to form a secret relationship with Dumby’s sister Clarence.

The film was adapted from the novel Deadly, Unna and received generally positive reviews.


This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Bob Black, Gary’s father, is a violent, sneering man who despises his wife’s weakness and finds his son’s fondness for reading to be unworthy of a real man. He gets worse after shooting Dumby, and his wife is powerless to stop him.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Pickles insults a player from the other team like this, in order to provide psychological pressure. This backfires when the stronger player ends up beating him up instead.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Gary gets a version of this when he finally stands up to his father like a man. However, he still gets beaten up.
  • Driven by Envy: The motivation of Pickles for acting like a jerk to Gary after he finds out that he’s getting close to Clarence. Thankfully, he gets over it.
  • Known Only by Their Nickname: Gary’s blonde friend, only known as Pickles.
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  • I'm Standing Right Here: Gary gets so caught up in inspiring Dumby with thoughts of all the girls he could get that he (and Dumby) fail to notice that the entire team, including the coach, has gathered around them to listen in.
  • Ironic Echo: At the beginning, Prospect Bay is described as the tidiest town in Australia. At the end, Blackie recalls this award when the town is now torn by racial hatred.
  • Jaded Washout: Pickles’ mother is an unemployed drunk and is largely uninterested in life. However, she still cares about her son, but is simply ineffective about it.
  • Middle-of-Nowhere Street: Entire Prospect Bay (which doesn't seem much more than a couple of streets) fits the bill nicely.
  • Rousing Speech: The coach gives these to the team before the training and match, but they’re more comic than inspiring and have little effect. Gary gives his own to Dumby before the match, though he focuses on sex for inspiration.
  • Sex Sells: Gary’s speech to Dumby is effectively based on this, calling him to imagine the girls he could get if he wins.
  • The Stoner: Pickles is a curious case. He is frequently seen with a bong (a skull-shaped one, no less!) but doesn’t display any stereotypical stoner traits, behaving like a typical ignorant teen. When without it, he’s borderline psychopathic and it’s implied weed’s calming effects are the only thing that make him act (relatively) normal.


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