A day in the life of a portable toilet plumber may not seem the most likely of subjects for a documentary, but this Australian film offers just that and more.

Kenny works for Splashdown, a company supplying portaloos to large outdoor and corporate events, and as their main man in the field, has to handle the day-to-day realities (and unpleasantries) of the job. There is a wonderful quote that opens the movie, “None are less visible than those we decide not to see”, and Kenny and his colleagues are surely the perfect example of this. It would be fair to say they take a lot of shit in their job, both literally and figuratively, and it’s a marvel how Kenny stays so calm in the face of it all.

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Kenny, though, is a positive thinker. He enjoys his job, gets on well with his colleagues and couldn’t give a hoot if anyone looks down on his choice of career – that’s their problem, not his. Kenny is an immensely likeable character, but he is a character nonetheless; played so exceptionally well by Shane Jacobson that it’s not immediately obvious this is a mockumentary, rather than the real thing. With an honest, down-to-earth attitude and warm sense of humour, Jacobson carries the film on his shoulders. His one-liner ockerisms are frequently hilarious, but even funnier are his observations on life, marriage and plumbing, delivered in voiceover or as advice to his long-suffering colleagues.

The production of this film was very much a family affair. Jacobson’s brother Clayton directs; the pair collaborated on the screenplay; and Kenny’s son and father are both played by their real-life counterparts, Jesse and Ronald. Splashdown, too, is a real company, which enabled the authentic filming of scenes on location at the St Kilda Festival, Calder Park Raceway and Flemington Racecourse, home of the Melbourne Cup. Kenny even gets to go on a business trip to the Pumper and Cleaner Expo (or “Poo HQ” as he calls it) in Nashville, Tennessee. This section of the film could easily have fallen into a stereotypical ‘fish out of water’ scenario, a la Crocodile Dundee, but, if anything, it only reinforces how much of a genuine guy Kenny is.

This is a uniquely Australian film in its character, outlook and sense of humour. Despite the subject matter, it is remarkable there are almost no puerile toilet jokes, with most of the laughs coming directly from the characters and situations. It is also surprisingly touching, and though the plot meanders at times with no real direction, Kenny remains a gem of a movie that deserves to be seen by a wider audience.

Reviewed on: 15 Feb 2008
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A day in the life of an Aussie toilet plumber.
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Director: Clayton Jacobson

Writer: Clayton Jacobson, Shane Jacobson

Starring: Shane Jacobson, Chris Davis, Alf Scerri, Hayley Preusker, Glenn Preusker, Mark Robertson, Jesse Jacobson, Ronald Jacobson

Year: 2006

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Australia


Australia 2008

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