Australian film Not Suitable for Children opened the 59th Sydney International Film Festival at the State Theatre on Wednesday June 6, 2012. The film centres around a man in his mid-twenties who discovers he has a less than a month of fertility left. Check out the review after the jump.
Jonah (Ryan Kwanten) is a guy in his mid-twenties living a free and easy life in Sydney’s Inner West. He lives in a ramshackle house with his housemates Gus (Ryan Corr) and Stevie (Sarah Snook). The three live a lifestyle that I’m sure many in the same generation can relate too – they have few responsibilities and love partying more than anything else. For them, life is pretty easy. Jonah’s world is tipped upside down when a girl (performing a sexual act) finds a lump on his genitals. Tests reveal he has a non life-threatening form of testicular cancer – while he is expected to make a full recovery, the treatment includes one of his testicles being removed, which will leave him infertile.
Although Jonah has never wanted children before, the knowledge he may only have a matter of weeks left to father a child scares him. He decides that he does in fact want children, and he needs to get a girl, any girl, pregnant before his operation. The film follows Jonah on his mission to impregnate a woman – from friends, to exes, to random sex-addicted crazies, there is no woman that he won’t consider.
There is some really great comedy in this film – and the second half in particular is packed full of good humour and some extremely awkward comedic moments. Jonah’s flatmate Gus provides a lot of humour – his head is totally in the sand and he misses so much of what is going on around him. The expressions on his face as he “gets” things is classic.
The music was a highlight for me - the party scenes in the house were fantastic and filled with great energy. It really did feel like a soundtrack for the Inner West mid-twenties crowd. Cinematography is also excellent, with some really great shots, particularly in the party scenes as the crowd heaves as they dance in unison.
While the film was entertaining, it wasn’t exactly original. The story felt like a mash-up of a bucket list film + a film which two people decide to have a kid together outside of a relationship. It was clear very early on where the film was heading, and it didn’t offer up many surprises. The characters were also woefully thin and their character development was very poor. The time it took for characters to completely change their view on some of life’s most important choices was really unbelievable. I also felt like the cancer aspect of the story was mostly overlooked. While it is a comedy, it would have given the film and the characters greater depth if they had acknowledged the cancer more, rather than it just being a film about getting someone pregnant. I never really felt worried for Jonah and didn’t feel like there was much at stake, or that the stakes were really that important to him.
Overall, Not Suitable for Children is a mixed bag, It’s an entertaining comedy with some very funny scenes and great music which provides a reasonably accurate look at the lifestyle of many young people of this generation. However, the lack of character development and predictable story-line seriously lets the film down. There is certainly great potential here, and I will be interested to see what director Peter Templeman does next.
Director: Peter Templeman
Writer(s): Michael Lucas
Starring: Ryan Kwanten, Bojana Novakovic and Laura Brent
Runtime: 97 minutes
Release date(s): Australia: July 5 2012; New Zealand & USA: No date set