Not Suitable For Children

Not Suitable For Children

***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The words cancer and comedy used to hang out in very different movie circles. If cancer was present, comedy rarely put a foot over the threshold, let alone made a joke at its expense. Recently there has been something of a sea change, with 50/50 bringing the two together in a buddy film format and now, this Aussie flick insists that just because you have cancer it doesn't mean you're a responsible adult.

Ryan Kwanten stars as Jonah, a 30something scraggy bearded hipster with a no-ties approach to relationships, with the exception of his housemates and best pals Gus (Ryan Corr) and Stevie (Sarah Snook). His mindset is about to change, though, not as a result of careful consideration of the holding pattern of parties and playgirls that his life has become but because a one-night stand has just noticed a lump on one of his testicles. A trip to the doc's later and Jonah discovers his life is about to change tack. The lump is cancerous and it's time to go under the knife - the only hitch being that when he has finished his treatment he'll be infertile. With the clock ticking faster than he ever thought possible, Jonah decides to take the plunge - with anyone, possibly everyone - in order to have a child.

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The premise sounds like a playpen for vulgarity but Michael Lucas's script is smarter than that. While there is an obvious smut level involved in the loss of a testicle, the joke choices are much less crass than you might imagine. And the subject matter is as much concerned - rightly or wrongly - with modern day fears of commitment and insecurity as with illness. Lucas also ensures his characters are grounded in a believable reality and, winningly for audience members sick of second fiddle females in Judd Apatow cast offs, gives Sarah Snook's character a story trajectory that is as substantial as that of Kwanten's. Snook grasps the opportunity with both hands to the extent of almost stealing the film out from under Kwanten, amiable though he is.

In the director's chair, TV and short film veteran Peter Templeman keeps the action interesting and finds contrast both in camera angles and styles between scenes, so that, for example, the hurly burly of a party with a throbbing (excellent) soundtrack gives way to the stasis of a doctor's office with an aquarium bubbling quietly in the background. His approach to the sex scenes is also robust, lending them an air of eroticism as well as comedy that is rarely found in mainstream films of this ilk.

There are some pacing issues, particularly in the film's early stages, and cancer is treated largely as a means to an end rather than a topic in itself, which is a pity as one suspects Lucas has the skill to tackle it. Still, if the ending is predictable to an extent, at least it avoids being trite in execution which - if recent Hollywood output is anything to go by - is easier said than achieved.

Reviewed on: 15 Sep 2012
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When a Sydney playboy discovers he's about to be rendered infertile by testicular cancer, the heat is on to become a dad.

Director: Peter Templeman

Writer: Michael Lucas

Starring: Ryan Kwanten, Sarah Snook, Ryan Corr, Bojana Novakovic, Laura Brent

Year: 2012

Runtime: 97 minutes

Country: Australia

Festivals:

Australia 2012

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If you like this, try:

50/50
Friends With Benefits
Oxygen