The Coca-Cola Kid (1985)
February 11, 2024 2:08 PM - Subscribe

(Trailer)An eccentric marketing guru visits a Coca-Cola subsidiary in Australia to try and increase market penetration. He finds zero penetration in a valley owned by an old man who makes his own soft drinks, and visits the valley to see why. After "the Kid's" persistence is tested he's given a tour of the man's plant, and they begin talking of a joint venture. Things get more complicated when the Coca-Cola man begins falling in love with his temporary secretary, who seems to have connections to the valley.

Becker (Eric Roberts) is an American marketing expert working for the Coca-Cola Company. He is extremely dedicated to his work and travels the world pushing the product on as many places as he can. When he realizes that there is a part of Australia where absolutely nobody buys Coke, he vows to change that. But then he meets not only McDowell (Bill Kerr), a local entrepreneur who manufactures his own soda, and finds out his temporary secretary is McDowell's beautiful daughter, Terri (Greta Scacchi), and everything changes.

An American fish in Australian waters comedy, "The Coca-Cola Kid"was released one year before "Crocodile Dundee".

Legal disclamer at the top of the film:
"This FILM is a WORK of FICTION. Neither the Coca-Cola COMPANY nor any of it's SUBSIDIARIES have licensed, sponsored, or approved of this FILM in any way. The FILM in no way purports to present an accurate ACCOUNT of the ACTIVITIES of the Coca-Cola COMPANY or it's SUBSIDIARIES - past, present or future."

Director: Dusan Makavejev
Writers: Frank Moorhouse, Denny Lawrence

47% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

posted by Marky (10 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I saw this when it came out and it made me feel very adult. Roberts was also in "Star 80" about the murdered Playboy bunny Dorothy Stratten, and "the Pope of Greenwich Village" and seeing those made me feel even more adult. It also sealed in my mind Eric Roberts as a "mature" actor and his roles as "important." There's a great sex scene in The Coca Cola Kid that plays out like a pillow fight with feathers flying everywhere. At least, I think it was a sex scene; that was almost 40 years ago!
posted by chavenet at 5:11 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

Sounds very Local Hero-ish.
posted by kandinski at 12:59 AM on February 12

I've had the "don't wanna go where there's no coca-colaaaaa!" jingle stuck in my head for almost 40 years. For a long time the jingle for the local soda stuck there too, but now I can't call it to mind.

I loved when the didgeridoo busker pulled out a business card.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 4:49 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

I also watched this when it first came out, I would have been a junior in high school. It also made me feel very adult, on reflection I think I thought it was more profound than it actually was.

Still, some real interesting pacing and imagery and narrative choices that I remember decades later. Attractive people doing strange things with non-standard 1980s film imagery was good enough for me at that time, I liked it.

One thing that really stuck in my craw though, and still does, was the brief text that flashes at the end of the film that says something along the lines of:

none of this story mattered because the world was destroyed by nuclear war the next week.

I think maybe they meant it to be whimsical, but it is a baffling choice in a movie full of baffling choices. I felt (and still do) that when a creator or author does this (or also "it was all just a dream" or other type of reset button) that what they are really doing is just giving a big Fuck You to the reader or viewer, like they are showing their contempt for us having had the audacity to care about the characters they created. It's always a point of irritation for me. I've never seen it done well.

Still and all, a pretty and funny and interesting movie, a great snapshot of a time when film could experiment a little more, and I'd probably even watch it again, though I won't make a strenuous effort to find it anywhere.

Although the opening shots of the Telex machine printing out the story is a wonderful nostalgic memory for me, because my dad worked on overseas construction projects heavily dependent on this forgotten technology.

Thanks for posting this, Marky.
posted by seasparrow at 9:58 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

I have always had a soft spot for Australian cinema, and long considered this a lost classic of sorts. it made me a life-long fan of Eric Roberts. I admit that I haven't rewatched in a while, but there's one scene where he tells Greta Scachi "put the boot...back on" that has always stuck with me. I say that line, with his inflection, all the time, and of course, nobody gets it. but I don't care...I know.

Oh those early days of VHS rentals when you could find gems like this just sitting on the shelf. Somehow, algorithms never unveil things like this, even though it's exactly what I like and look for.
posted by jkosmicki at 10:42 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

Thanks to Greta Scacchi I learned I have a thing for Santa. If it's Greta Scacchi dressed as Santa.

I've had the "don't wanna go where there's no coca-colaaaaa!" jingle stuck in my head for almost 40 years.

Because it's awesome! "You got life by the throat when you're drinking Coke"
posted by kirkaracha at 1:57 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]

OMG kirkaracha, you knocked the local soda jingle loose in my brain! "Every bloke should drink McCoke! Every bloke should drink McCoke!"
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 6:09 PM on February 12

My college town had two independent cinemas run by the same company, little 80-seat rooms in 120-year-old brick buildings. I saw this at one of them. They're where I learned to love independent and "foreign" films. I can't even remember where I would learn about such films before the Internet came along, I guess maybe from looking at the listings for the different cinemas, and maybe seeing things in American Cinematographer magazine? I really miss that mode of discovery. The closest I've come in the Internet age is when I spent the first year and a half of the pandemic in New Zealand, where the local cinemas were showing lots of non-Hollywood movies because Hollywood was shut down. It was pretty magical, and I saw a lot of interesting films that might otherwise not have mad it onto my radar.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 6:16 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

The best thing about this movie (there are many great parts) is that it features music so heavily from my most beloved Finn Brothers, Tim and Neil.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 10:41 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]

This movie is definitely a departure for director Makavejev - probably not what people into W.R. and Sweet Movie were expecting. I barely remember it now, should rewatch.
posted by remembrancer at 2:38 PM on February 13

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