We Can Be Heroes—The Complete Series

8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Great characters by Lilley

Wish it was a bit longer


Even you can be Australian of the Year!

A camera crew follows five hopeful contestants of the Australian of the Year competition. Phil Olivetti (Chris Lilley) saved a group of children from a fly-away bounce castle and now seeks to reach people as a motivational speaker.  Ricky Wong (Chris Lilley) is a researcher with dreams of becoming an actor.  Pat Mullins (Chris Lilley) is a cancer survivor with a handicap that plans to roll across Australia.  Daniel Sims (Chris Lilley) is preparing to sacrifice his eardrum to help his twin brother Nathan (Chris Lilley) to hear again.  Ja’mie King (Chris Lilley) is a private school girl who has “adopted” a number of Africans.  The five contestants find their lives documented as the search for the Australian of the Year begins to heat up.


Sonali…look like your trying to escape…while I look hot

We Can Be Heroes (also known by the longer title of We Can Be Heroes:  Finding the Australian of the Year or also simply called The Nominees) aired from July 27, 2005 to August 31, 2005 on Australia’s ABC in six episodes.  In the United States, it was released by HBO.

Chris Lilley who has established quite a name in Australia is a fresh face in the United States.  This film follows the format of the mockumentary and does have a similar feel to Christopher Guest comedies.  Having seen Lilley’s Summer Heights High as well, his ability to embody the characters is quite strong and he does a great job making characters that can be both straight comedy or actually quite sad.


Tugs at your heartstrings…

The characters have a lot of range…from funny to emotional.  Ja’mie King and Phil Olivetti seem to be the “comedy” characters.  Ja’mie’s shallowness has built its own following and Ja’mie appeared in Summer Heights High and is scheduled to have her own show.  Phil Olivetti’s high self-esteem reminds me a lot of Ricky Gervais’ David Brent in original UK version The Office.  In the middle range is Ricky Wong who fear of following his dream isn’t logical, but it should be his choice.  Despite their crudeness, Daniel and Nathan are actually a rather sad story (they also appear in Angry Boys), but the most tragic case has to be the roller Pat Mullins (who seems like a great match with her husband Terry).

With only six episodes at a half-hour each, it is pretty amazing the emotional response that Chris Lilley managed to develop.  We Can Be Heroes is worth seeking out, but I enjoyed Summer Heights High a bit more.  See both however so you can get the full Ja’mie experience…it is worth the trip.

We Can Be Heroes:  Finding the Australian of the Year—Complete Episode Guide:


Episode 1

Episode 1 Airdate:  07/27/05

Phil Olivetti (Chris Lilley) hopes to be Australian of the Year after his near death experience in a blown away bounce house.  Ricky Wong (Chris Lilley) development of solar energy hopes it will qualify him as Australian of the Year.  Private school student Ja’mie King (Chris Lilley) funds African students and attempts to become Australian of the Year.  Daniel Sims (Chris Lilley) prepares to give his twin brother Nathan (Chris Lilley) his eardrum in an attempt restore his hearing and hopes that he will win Australian of the Year.  Cancer survivor Pat Mullins (Chris Lilley) tries to conquer his disability by setting rolling records and becoming Australian of the Year.


Episode 2

Episode 2 Airdate:  08/03/05

Phil shows how to his day-to-day life has changed since the accident and how he spends time with is kids.  Ricky introduces his family to the filmmakers and takes the crew on a trip to an audition for a musical.  Ja’mie brings her friends home for a sleepover and has them explain why she should be Australian of the Year.  Pat prepares for her big roll and shows how she and her husband Terry (Mick Graham) work together.  Daniel shows how he and his friends struggle to find things to do in their small town and prepares for his surgery.


Episode 3

Episode 3 Airdate:  08/10/05

Phil gives a speech to the scouts on what to do in moments of crisis…but makes a crisis himself.  Ja’mie learns that one of her adopted kids named Sonali (Nyathan Hoth Mai) has fled to Australia and wants her to visit her at the detention center.  Ricky struggles to balance his new musical to his studies and reveals a secret about his dreams.  Terry works to exercise Pat for the roll, and Pat suffers a rolling injury.  Daniel looks forward to the surgery and does interviews with the media.


Episode 4

Episode 4 Airdate:  08/17/05

Ja’mie and her friends give their presentation on their visit to the detention center and gets a big offer.  Phil has dinner with a member of the election committee who helps decide the Australian of the Year and seeks inside on the competition.  Daniel and Nathan have their surgery, and Daniel waits for Nathan to thank him for his eardrum.  Pat and Terry learn about the dangers of roaming dingo packs on their track and question if she should use a dingo cage.  Ricky preps for the big night and decides to give up physics to be an actor.


Episode 5

Episode 5 Airdate:  08/24/05

It is answer day as the nominees for Australians of the Year wait for news to see if they will advance.  Ja’mie learns that she has made the short list, but her principal reveals bad news to Ja’mie about her sponsored children which leaves her scrambling.  Ricky prepares for the big show and prepares to say goodbye to his acting.  Pat begins to prepare for her big roll across the country but gets extremely bad medical news.  Nathan adjusts to his new life with hearing, and David has second doubts about the Australian of the Year competition.  Phil awaits the call from the nominations but lies about the results.


Episode 6

Episode 6 Airdate:  08/31/05

The finals for the Australian of the Year are here.  Phil hides from his wife that he didn’t really get nominated for Australian of the Year and tries to get into the ceremony anyway.  Pat and her husband attend the ceremony and prepares to go under treatment for her cancer.  Ja’mie takes Sonali to the ceremony and hopes it will push her over the edge.  Daniel and Nathan make the trip and Daniel catches the eye of Ja’mie.  Ricky gets to meet Cathy Freeman from his musical and gets good news.

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Related Links:

Summer Heights High—The Complete Series Review and Episode Guide

Ja’mie:  Private School Girl—The Complete Series

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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