The Nut Farm, film review: agreeably silly Australian comedy

Nut jokes abound, but in a family-friendly way, in Arj Barker's new comedy.

It’s a bit of a myth that audiences don’t like Australian comedy. Of course they do; what they don’t like is bad Australian comedy, and because comedy is difficult (a boring drama can still be sold as a dramedy; an unfunny comedy is just a waste of time) you need a steady stream of it to produce even the occasional winner.

Unfortunately, the Australian film industry currently doesn’t produce a steady stream of anything, let alone something as risky and tricky as comedy. And whatever else it might be, The Nut Farm is most definitely a comedy.

Arj Barker is Brendan Brandon, a cryptocurrency trader in San Francisco who inherits his uncle’s macadamia nut farm in the Australian town of Cobweb right around the time that all his investments in ‘didgidough’ go into the toilet. When he arrives looking to turn the farm into some quick cash, he discovers the will contains one very large condition: before he’ll allowed to sell the farm, first he has to bring in a harvest of at least 20 tons. How hard can it be?

One of the most difficult things to get right with comedy, and especially with comedy film, is tone. Somewhat surprisingly for a film that features a nut farmer named Dee (please don’t make me spell it out), The Nut Farm largely gets it right. It’s aimible rather than aggressive, more laid-back than laying it on thick. That doesn’t make the jokes any better, but light-hearted is always a good starting point for a comedy.

The plot threads (Brandon strikes up a possible romance with a neighbour played by Madeleine West, while underfoot an evil scheme is underway) are a decent framework for the jokes while being just interesting enough to make this feel like there’s an actual story going on.

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The characters are over-the-top (including Tiriel Mora and Roy Billing in supporting roles), but not painfully so; Brandon sells his cryptocurrency with lines like ‘hard work is dead’ while revealing that most of his upper body strength comes from scrolling.

Arj Barker in The Nut Farm. Image: Bonsai Films.

Not all the jokes work. But there’s a lot of jokes and there’s a lot of different kinds of joke so even when there’s a string of duds at least there’s a bit of variety. A New Zealander’s swearing consists entirely of yelling out the names of NZ celebrities (‘Peter Jackson!’); Cobweb is so isolated when Brandon arrives he looks at his phone and exclaims ‘One G?’.

Unsurprisingly, there are also plenty of nut jokes, culminating in a discussion of nut harvesting that includes the lines ‘we empty our nutsacks into this machine’ and ‘sometimes your nuts are just disappointingly small’.

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The Nut Farm is decent enough for an Australian movie comedy; basically, it’s not as funny as Kenny but it’s better than You and Your Stupid Mate. Unfortunately, years of truly awful efforts (or maybe just Fat Pizza vs Housos) have lowered the bar so far that even ‘decent enough’ is far from a ringing endorsement.

The golden age of Australian comedy film is long past; there are plenty of (young) parents out there who weren’t born when Crackerjack was in cinemas.

So let’s just say that this agreeably silly film is firmly family-friendly stuff. Just so long as your family can handle a lot of nuts.

The Nut Farm is in cinemas now.


3 out of 5 stars


Arj Barker, Madeleine West, Jonno Roberts, Tiriel Mora


Scott Corfield

Format: Movie

Country: Australia

Release: 14 March 2024

Anthony Morris is a freelance film and television writer. He’s been a regular contributor to The Big Issue, Empire Magazine, Junkee, Broadsheet, The Wheeler Centre and Forte Magazine, where he’s currently the film editor. Other publications he’s contributed to include Vice, The Vine, Kill Your Darlings (where he was their online film columnist), The Lifted Brow, Urban Walkabout and Spook Magazine. He’s the co-author of hit romantic comedy novel The Hot Guy, and he’s also written some short stories he’d rather you didn’t mention. You can follow him on Twitter @morrbeat and read some of his reviews on the blog It’s Better in the Dark.