Review :: Not Suitable For Children

June 7th 2012

It was a weird move by the Sydney Film Festival to make Not Suitable For Children their opening night film. That’s not a reflection on the film, just its pride of place in a program that contains more anticipated and prestigious fare like Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, which opened Cannes, and Michael Haneke’s Amour, which won it. If you want an Australian film in the slot (which is stupid really, it’s not an Australian Film Festival) why not go with Lore, or Mabo, or Dead Europe. Next to some of them, Not Suitable For Children could fairly be considered a lightweight. A breezy Aussie comedy that cleverly subverts some rom-com staples while rigidly following others. It makes for a pleasant enough hour and a half, but it’s not going to blow anyone’s mind.

It’s the story of Jonah, played by Ryan Kwanten, who is showing a really admirable commitment to getting local movies made. He has inherited a truly awesome house in Newtown but is pretty aimless, happy to let his housemates use his place to try and make an improbable living by staging epic boozy parties. This changes when he is diagnosed with testicular cancer, giving him only a few weeks to get someone, anyone, pregnant before treatment renders him infertile. So yeah, it’s pretty contrived, but I liked the way it takes the old genre staple of the late 30’s woman with the booming biological clock, and shifts it to a man in his early 20s. The movie obviously is pretty proud of this plot device too, because while it executes it well, it doesn’t manage to transcend it with great characters or clever dialogue, which the best rom coms do. Instead the plot unfolds just as you expect it might, complete with that old genre staple where someone is horrible completely out of character in the third act to add a bit of lame tension for the finale.

Kwanten and Sarah Snook, playing his love interest Stevie, do their best, with Snook in particular hinting she could be really great with more lively material. The Inner West setting is fun for locals, and the soundtrack was good. It’s a movie I am happy to recommend for a date night, tight-arse Tuesday, or on DVD. Just not opening the Sydney Film Festival.

Not Suitable for Children hits cinemas July 12, and is screening again on Saturday the 9th at 4pm.



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