Not Suitable for Children Reviews
Perfect funky music score.
Testicular cancer is no laughing matter, but Peter Templeman's feature debut Not Suitable for Children adopts for a light hearted genial approach to the ever cringe worthy topic. Whether to have children or not is a natural point of contention for independent twenty-something's, inducing strong opinions and debate material among the masses. But if the option is taken away, how would you react?
In a crumbing inner Sydney share-house, Jonah (Ryan Kwanten) is the very picture of young adult irresponsibility proving that the only goal in your twenties is to have fun.
Professional party-havers, Jonah and his best mate Gus (Ryan Corr) attempt to build a party empire and live off the cover-charge proceeds of their massive, anarchic shindigs.
In the habit of outsourcing any and all responsibilities to fellow housemate Stevie (Sarah Snook), Jonah is unprepared when his latest casual drug-fuelled one night stand becomes an impromptu inspection that turns up a lump. Informed that it is a completely curable bout of testicular cancer, the only drawback is a permanent case of infertility.
Heading straight to the sperm bank to ensure future posterity, further bad news that his swimmers are not viable for freezing means is only option is to conceive the natural way. Previously unsold on the idea of parenting, the sudden shock wave of emotion starts Jonah's biological clock-ticking, loudly causes a massive shift in the maestros priorities.
Deciding he does in fact want offspring, Jonah postpones the operation as long as possible; a meager three weeks, in hopes of finding a womb-an who may be willing to procreate and produce his progeny.
His first choices of recent ex-girlfriends Ava (Bonjana Novakovic) and the unfortunately nicknamed stalker Becky (Kathryn Beck) flatly knock him back, prompting Jonah's frantic search to the modern equivalent of a little black book, facebook. Unable to find a miss-right now with a known mate, in desperation he casts the net even wider to complete strangers under the theory that almost female will suffice.
Receiving a well needed reality check, the trusted Stevie frankly declares that him having a child should be an arrangement. With the advice to remove all the emotional complications, Stevie lines up candidates and brokers meeting with both an older college who wants her own baby and a lesbian couple so they can help each other facilitate their parental desires.
But when Stevie's 'womb agent' efforts hit a wall, fatherhood remains ever elusive but Jonah comes to the realization that the perfect candidate might be closer than he thought.
Attempting to convince the ever protesting Stevie to entertain the idea of carry his child, Jonah uncovers something even more shocking about himself than his genuine need to be a male parental unit.
Although reluctant to believe the immediate transition from eternal-bachelor to desperate-daddy, Michael Lucas' impressive screenplay resonates. Having come out the other side of a cancer scare himself, he insightfully injects a gentle helping of humor whilst retaining genuine emotional clout.
The clichéd plot milestones we see coming nine months away arrive surprisingly early in the piece, giving audiences moments to bask in the aftermath gouged from comical situational. The edgy patches of vulgar lowbrow fun combined with the contemporary love story are less mould-breaker and rather savvy statement.
The key performances are impressive. Ryan Kwanten tackles the self-indulgent Jonah with a naturally naïve enthusiasm. Ryan Corr is fun (if not fully explored) as the frenzied but clueless third housemate, but it is Emma Stone look-alike Sarah Snook who truly steals each scene to capture the viewer's attention. Destined for cinematic greatness, her expressive eyes convey s pool of emotion while her wonderfully sensitive face signals the complex thoughts hidden within.
The Verdict: All kidding aside, from the thumping soundtrack, attractive cast, trendy setting and emotional transitions, Not suitable for children is a fluffy yet insightful exploration into the drastic and immediate reactions cancer can trigger.
Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 20/07/2012
When Jonah finds out that the treatment for his testicular cancer will make him sterile, he sets out on a mission to make a baby before his time runs out.
Such a subject isn't the easiest to stretch out over an hour and a half, so it's a tribute to writers Michael Lucas and Peter Templeman that the film is constantly charming with a wry sense of humour and sarcasm, executed brilliantly by the three leads. The writers have also nailed the characters here, as each of them could easily be locked up in their own stereotypes, but instead are real and layered with hidden depths. Jonah in particular could easily come off as unlikeable after his funny moron schtick wears off, but instead his character imbues the movie with a childlike innocence, despite its initially crude subject matter. Templeman also has a keen ear for every day conversation and the awkward intricacies it brings. Some of the film's funniest moments are in the cringe-worthy conversations between a guy who needs to find someone who wants a kid immediately and his confused subject. At its centre, however, the film is a romantic comedy, and Templeman never forgets to focus on the real relationships developing behind the babymaking farce. The main romance never feels unrealistic or cheaply found. Instead, the two characters grow together naturally through their own developments as characters and understanding of themselves.
Making these characters a reality is a fantastic cast who are perfect for each of their roles. At the front of the pack is Ryan Kwanten. Most people will know the Aussie star from True Blood but he has kept returning home to make independent, cleverly strange films like Griff the Invisible. Here, his Jonah has touches of Jason Stackhouse's stupidity but he's such a likeable guy that he's instantly endeared to the audience. His journey from aloof playboy to earnest adult is forced upon him at first, but by the end of the film he has made the journey in his own right. It's a performance which you can't help but like thanks to Kwanten's great comedic sensibility and an ability to convey a vulnerability and depth in what could easily be a shallow, unlikeable character. His counterpart, Sarah Snook, is more than a match for Jonah as the sarcastic Stevie. She's always the first one to point out the stupidity of a situation and bring a little sanity to the works. However, her sense of humour makes it tough for her to connect with others emotionally, something which Snook displays perfectly. Her awkward manouvering through a real conversation is as touching as it is funny. Ryan Corr provides even more to the comic relief side of things as Gus, the housemate constantly in the dark, constantly on the very edge of knowing what's going on. Other performances from Bojana Novakovic, Alice Parkinson and Laura Brent are welcome additions to an already great cast.
Almost a member of the cast in its own right is the soundtrack. Full of an eclectic mix of party tracks and subtler, softer choices, the music does a great deal to heighten the film while also working in the crux of each scene.
Peter Templeman's direction is a cut above your average indy film: confidently restrained, cleverly dynamic and unafraid of earnest emotion. He handles every beat of the film with the flair of someone who doesn't even realise this is their debut feature. Having written the script, Templeman very clearly understands his subject matter and his characters and, more importantly, how to convey this through his direction. Whether it's an incisive close-up during a key moment for a character or tracking an oblivious Jonah through a pulsing crowd, Templeman adds a mood and a beauty to his film through his camera.
Australia can either make very good films or very bad films. For every Animal Kingdom there's going to be a Bait to follow it up. Not Suitable for Children wobbles a little throughout, but it ends firmly in the good column.
The cringe-worthy hilarity of an arrangement with a lesbian couple.