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Pop CultureNovember 2, 2017

What the hell is up with that Steve Hansen biscuit movie?


All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is the star of Arnott’s latest ad and film campaign. Madeleine Chapman attended the premiere and still doesn’t know what it’s supposed to be.

Something big is happening at Arnott’s. In August they released two “trailers” to a supposed real-life film starring notorious great-but-boring person Steve Hansen in a quest to find the last biscuits left in New Zealand. Or the last ones left on Earth, they never clarify that part. Titled Apocalypse Steve Hansen: Don’t Lose Your Biscuit, it’s less of a film and more of a long, very expensive ad that’s playing in cinemas. Yes, something big is happening at Arnott’s and it must be stopped.

If you haven’t seen the ads or the giant billboards yet, go ahead and catch up. Through my extensive studies of the English language and its many intricacies, I have deduced that to misplace one’s biscuit means to lose one’s patience. To lose one’s cool. To lose one’s…baked goods.

The Spinoff were invited to a red carpet premiere of the film with a smart casual dress code. I own approximately nothing that constitutes smart casual; television editor Alex Casey was wearing her usual work clothes which were closer but still not there: and Ātea editor Leonie Hayden forgot the event was on so was wearing an oversized sweatshirt and sneakers. There was a long pause before we were allowed beyond the velvet rope.

We settled into our recliner (woah) seats and rummaged through the Arnott’s goodie bags. No matter what I say in the rest of this review, Tim Tams will always be my favourite biscuit. We then made guesses as to how long this biscuit movie would be. The general consensus was that it would be between 15 minutes and half an hour.

Never eat on camera

There were a couple of speeches that suggested we were about to see something groundbreaking. A woman called out to director Zoe Bell to not be shy. Silence. “Where are you? I know you’re here somewhere.” Silence. Director and star Zoe Bell was not there. And that’s when I first seriously considered that what we were about to see might be truly terrible.

It was.

The entire film – a film that had two minute-long trailers – was five minutes long. This isn’t its official running time but it felt like an expensive music video so that’s what I’m going with.

The plot was hazy at best but from what I could gather, the apocalypse had happened and the only way to survive was to find the last batch of Arnott’s biscuits. The location of these biscuits was on a lone receipt that had been ripped into three pieces. Hansen had one but needed to find the others, one of which was with evil Rachel House who lived in the Sky Tower. In two minutes, Hansen and Bell had collected the receipt pieces and found the biscuits in a supermarket. Not sure how they were still in the supermarket when the receipt would suggest that they’d been purchased already.

This and other plot holes are what’s keeping me up at night.

Look, the biscuit movie was short and bad and seems like a huge waste of money. But there were some great moments.

This terrifying and unintentional homage to Goosebumps

Steven Hansen emerged from the sea completely dry (intentional joke) and terrified me because he looked like the Curse of Camp Cold Lake (unintentional pee).

An overestimation of how embedded in NZ culture Arnott’s snacks are

Throughout the very short yet somehow long film, there was a running gag whereby one character would ask a yes or no question, and the other would respond with a sarcastic question themselves, much like your Dad might yell “Is the Pope Catholic?!” when you ask if he wants a beer.

“Is the Pope Catholic” works because there’s only one right answer. But “Is Vita-Weat the perfect foundation for all your favourite toppings?” is decidedly not a clearcut answer. “Are Tim Tams the only reason people go to meetings?” is admittedly better. The Spinoff can’t afford to have Tim Tams at every meeting but if they did, I’d be there.

Steve Hansen fashioned a Cruskit into a giant key

When faced with a locked door, Hansen whipped out the notoriously brittle Cruskit biscuit and nibbled it into a key. Again, this was the joke and I get that. But what made it so much funnier was that after the film had screened, waiters served us some Cruskit snacks that had clearly been made much earlier in the day because the Cruskits were bloody hard. Perhaps it was a deliberate callback to prove that unlocking a door with a Cruskit is scientifically plausible.

Steve Hansen saying words

Steve Hansen is better at acting than I was expecting, which is a backhanded compliment in its purest form, but there was one particular line that stole the show. As written, the line was “that ought to do it alright”. But what Hansen said was “thadordaduidoride.” Beautiful.

When they ran out of money

Animation ain’t cheap. Or is it? I actually don’t know.

The film was clearly leading to a classic supermarket fight to the death a la Shaun of the Dead but instead of showing even one punch being thrown, the film cut to black and a “two months later” card appeared. Shouldn’t have spent all that money photoshopping Israel Dagg’s face onto a billboard imo.

Buck is back, baby (maybe)

I’d seen on the poster that Buck Shelford would be in it and whispered “Bring back Buck” to myself like a demon child, but he wasn’t there until the final seconds where he appeared, said “I’m back” straight down the barrel, and disappeared. Then the word “maybe…” appeared. I don’t know what that means, but it was a fitting final shot for a truly incomprehensible ad campaign.

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