Ryan Kwanten has an impressive habit of using his high profile role in ‘True Blood’ to the Aussie film industry’s advantage. In recent years, he’s popped back here to film the likes of Red Hill and Griff the Invisible – both good films in their own right – and now appears in the fantastic romantic comedy, Not Suitable for Children.
Kwanten plays Jonah, a lovable slacker whose only real interest in life appears to be hosting regular parties at his house with his housemates Stevie (Sarah Snook) and Gus (Ryan Corr) as an easy source of cash. When Jonah discovers that he has testicular cancer however, suddenly his priorities change. The doctor explains to him that procedure that will save him will in fact leave him infertile. With the operation looming, his desire to father a child before it’s too late becomes his sole purpose – despite that fact that he’s single.
Not Suitable for Children flirts with becoming offensive, inappropriate or simply misguided, but the brilliance of the screenplay is that it never makes any such mistake. Despite the rather outrageous nature of the decisions Jonah makes, Michael Lucas’ screenplay is perfectly sensible in the long run.
Kwanten puts in a good performance though, admittedly, on several occasions Jonah comes perilously close to becoming too much of a sap for us to care for him. Thankfully we have Snook’s performance as Stevie, whose sensible and caring approach is the perfect foil for the Jonah, who is out of his depth most of the time. Snook’s performance is a revelation and truly a joy to watch. There’s one scene that, on paper, would have been mildly amusing, yet it’s bystander Stevie’s facial expressions in response to what’s occurring that elevate the scene to the status of true classic. Hilarious and touching, Snook’s contribution cannot be overstated.
Not Suitable for Children is great romantic comedy. There are some narrative beats that don’t quite ring true – ones that feel like they’re simply conforming to the romcom standard rather than occurring organically – but these are fleeting and don’t sully the rest of the film. This is director Peter Templeman’s first feature, but he’s a veteran of TV and short films and it shows. Each of the scenes is sublimely realised with pitch-perfect direction. This is a beautiful, heartfelt and sidesplitting comedy that deserves immense success at the box office.Rating: