Mental_PosterWhat fresh hell is this movie? An Aussie suburbs flick by the guy who did Muriels’ Wedding, that’s what. It’s a movie about the little guys, the battler’s, the everyday Joe’s and the psychologically affected. Rebecca Gibney plays Shirley Moochmore, an essentially single mum with a herd of daughters that all claim to be “mental” in some way. Shirley’s husband Barry (Anthony LaPaglia) is a local council member who spends as little time at home as possible because a) he’s a shit person and b) he’s a shit person.

The film opens with introducing us to Shirley who at the end of her tether emotionally, is ready to snap and it’s not long before she does. As a result, she books herself in at a psychiatric hospital for some time out. Because of this, Barry finds himself in the unenviable position of sole carer for the kids, a responsibility he quickly discards by picking up a stray he sees on the side of the road to be their live-in babysitter. This stray takes the form of Shaz (Toni Colette) – a bong smoking, muscle dog-toting scrap of a human being who looks like she’s been given the short end of the stick for most of her life.

The film is aware of its story parallels with The Sound Of Music and features songs from the 1965 “classic” (something that does not, in my opinion, work in anyone’s favour). Like Maria with the Von Trapp kids, Shaz’s unconventional lifestyle brings something new to the table of the Moochmore family and is able to bring a little stability and pride to the lives of the girls she has found herself looking after.

The plot thickens however when we find out that the local water park attraction where the eldest daughter works is owned by Trevor Blundell (Liev Schreiber) who happens to be the ex-husband of Shaz.

I bought into this movie at the beginning, allowing myself to enjoy the craziness and variety of characters on the screen. Yet 90 or so minutes in, I felt that I’d overstayed my welcome, the quirkiness became irritating and I lost interest in the lives of the individuals of this “wacky” family.

Being Australian, I like the idea that Australia has a film industry but every time I give “one of our own” a go, I walk away disappointed (especially when it comes to comedy). I always get the feeling that whoever’s put the film together is really excited to begin with but then they get bored and by the time it gets to the end are either just going through the motions to get it done or overcompensating with more faux-farce zany situations. This one’s no exception.

Good effort guys but come on, Aussie. Come on. Seriously.

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