The Coca-Cola Kid starts with a disclaimer that the film doesn’t represent nor has any affiliation with the REAL Coca-Cola Company. After sitting through it, I wonder if the actors say the same thing on their resumes?
Eric Roberts, who is part of the more-talented-but-less-famous-than-my-sibling crowd (see also Clint/Ron Howard and any Baldwin brother/Alec Baldwin) has certainly had a rollercoaster career. The 1980s proved a real highlight with Star 80, Pope of Greenwich Village and Runaway Train coming in fast succession, with Coca-Cola Kid sandwiched awkwardly between the latter two. It’s interesting to note that Roberts was in a serious car accident in the early ‘80s and remained comatose for several days. It’s not hard to imagine him signing the contract for this film around that time; blunt-force head trauma will do that (“I heard the words “coke” and “Australia”…I thought they were talking about a HOLIDAY when I signed!”).
Roberts plays Becker, a yankie marketing wiz and spin-doctor, flown out from the US to teach us backwater Aussie hicks about maximising the potential of Coca Cola and increasing sales. During an analysis of sales across Australia he discovers a virtual sales black-hole in the form of Anderson Valley, this part of the country has zero sales. Before you can unscrew a bottle of Pepsi, Becker and his secretary Terri (Greta “Nudity is in my contract” Scacci) are off to investigate. In a weird twist of fate Terri has links to Anderson Valley, the depth of which is revealed later in the film. Upon arriving in Anderson Valley they encounter T. George McDowall (Bill “Have beard will travel”) Kerr, the owner of the township and self-made fizzy-drink king.
That’s the basic storyline. It’s fundamentally your basic “fish out of water” tale with a corporate twist. Imagine Wake in Fright minus the suspense and you’d be on the right track.
Highlights of the film include Dean Semler’s typically lush cinematography and, no matter how clunky the vehicle may be, it’s always interesting to watch Roberts out-act everyone else on the screen. Disappointing elements include the anticipated tension between Becker and McDowall which doesn’t lead to much. Kiwi viewers will be surprised to see Tim Finn in a small role, proving that as an actor he’s a great musician.
Watching this film is like opening a bottle of coke on a hot, hot day and finding it’s flat. Pass the Pepsi.
Available on R0 DVD from Umbrella Entertainment.