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Hoges Part 2 review: If only Paul Hogan biopic with Josh Lawson had gone rogue

The 1990 wedding of Paul Hogan and Linda Kozlowski, with Josh Lawson and Laura Gordon playing the happy couple of Hoges. Photo: Paul A. BrobenOver the years Paul Hogan was accused of tax dodging, of cheating on his wife, of going all Hollywood on us, any one of which would have been enough to cast your average bloke as a mongrel.
Nanjing Night Net

But Hoges the miniseries skipped over, through and around whatever dirt might or might not exist in this tale. And in the end, its Paul Hogan emerged as just an ordinary bloke who got lucky by having a crack.

Net result: Legend fully intact, curiosity largely unsatisfied.

Having raced through 30 years in part one, the second instalment slowed to a crawl, taking 70 minutes to cover two years. But then it belatedly perked up, racing through the next three decades in just 10 minutes or so. With Paul Hogan’s life flashing before our eyes, it felt a bit like we’d been invited to watch a drowning from inside the victim’s head.

Part two opened in 1986, as Crocodile Dundee was being unleashed on the world, and it ended in 2014 (or thereabouts), with Hogan (Josh Lawson) on stage presenting a hits-and-memories tour of his life, complete with slideshow, a belated return to a framing device introduced in part one and almost forgotten about in between.

But it soon became obvious that the real subject of Hoges was marriage – namely the end of one (to Noelene) and the start of another (to Linda).

All that racing through the key moments from his very public TV career in the first episode was just cover, it seems; the second episode was all about the private life of our ocker hero, and the mess his success made of it.

Some of it worked a treat, though. On the positive side we had: Hogan (Josh Lawson) telling John Cornell (Ryan Corr) he needs to go to America to promote his film. “I’m a salesman mate. You have to let me do my job.” Later, Hogan told Cornell that he, Cornell, is such a good salesman he could “sell wine to Jesus”. I was happy to buy the idea that they were really just a pair of exceptional hucksters.  

Paul Hogan (Josh Lawson) and John Cornell (Ryan Corr) sell Crocodile Dundee to Paramount. Photo: SevenNoelene (Justine Clarke) buzzing with the news that Paul has been nominated for an Oscar (best original screenplay) and has been asked to co-host the broadcast, then buzzing even more when he asks her to come with him. “Who else is going to save me from having a convo with some stuck-up Seppo wanker,” he asks. I’m almost willing to believe that’s really how he pitched the most elaborate date a suburban housewife from Sydney has ever been invited on.Hogan, on the phone to Cornell, feeling torn between his attraction to Linda and his loyalty to Noelene. “A man doesn’t throw in 30 years of marriage for a flight of fancy.” Cornell’s career advice to Hogan: “The smartest thing a bloke can learn is where his strengths lie.” It was astute but probably also the reason we were cursed with Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles.The moment during the premiere of Crocodile Dundee 2 when Noelene can tell from what she’s watching on screen that all those tabloid rumours are true, and pulls her hand away from the husband she knows she’s lost.The scene straight after, where the pair of them tearfully conceded their marriage is over, again. There’s a lovely symmetry, and contrast, with the moment in the first episode where their first marriage came crashing to an end; rage and resentment first time around, merely sadness the second.

Noelene (Justine Clarke) and Paul (Josh Lawson) Hogan realise their marriage is over, again. Photo: Seven

But there was stuff that felt forced, clunky or overdone too. Like: The moment Noelene dropped the coffee cup and it magically became the symbol of her shattered marriage. “The cup, the cup. Whyyyyyy, the cup?”The get-well card from Olivia Newton John, which Noelene read to Paul as he lay in a hospital bed recovering from a brain haemorrhage. “She wrote it herself, didn’t get an assistant to do it,” Noelene said. “She’s so lovely.” And please stay tuned for Olivia, coming soon to Seven, from the team that brought you Hoges. Yes, seriously.The scene where Hoges and Cornell are stuck in a taxi in LA on the way to the premiere of Crocodile Dundee. The car’s not moving, and you’ll never guess what’s causing the hold-up. “Sorry, sir, they’re lined up for some Australian movie,” says the driver. What are the odds? In Hoges, pretty good.  

Paul Hogan (Josh Lawson) and Linda Kozlowski (Laura Gordon). Photo: SevenThe scene in the restaurant where Clint Eastwood picks up a bread knife and says to Hogan: “How many times have you heard it now?” At least we only saw his hand and back, so we didn’t have to watch someone doing a dreadful impression, a la last week’s Dustin Hoffman. I don’t know about you, but I felt lucky, punk.The Sydney Olympics thing. Just all of it.The fact the only scandal that registers in this telling of Hogan’s life is the domestic one, and even there he gets off fairly lightly, enjoying no more than a tortured kiss in a hotel corridor with Linda while still a married man. There’s but the merest hint of the long-running saga with the tax office, and no mention at all of Lightning Jack, the $36 million film that proved the only thing riskier than filmmaking or the share market is filmmaking via the share market.

I guess that’s the problem with trying to tell a life story – in this case, a very public one, with decades spent in the limelight – over such a short span of screen time. Too much gets crammed in, too much gets left out.

I guess it’s also what you get when you’re determined to ensure your subject remains roguishly charming without ever becoming an actual rogue. Pity, because a little more rogue is exactly what Hoges needed.

Karl Quinn is on facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on twitter @karlkwin

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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