Movie review: Not Suitable for Children

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If the scale of Australian cinema ranges from Wog Boy 2: Kings of Mykonos at the stinking bottom to Animal Kingdom perching triumphantly on top in all its Oscar-nominated glory, then our latest local offering Not Suitable for Children sits somewhere in the middle. And really, that’s not a bad place to be.

Not Suitable For Children follows aimless 20-something Jonah, whom together with his two housemates subsists by running their crumbling Stanmore pad a little further into the ground each week with massive, entry-fee-payable house parties. All’s well and good in the revelry until Jonah has a BJ interrupted by the discovery on the part of his lady friend that he’s got a lump down there. One trip to the doctor later, it’s discovered that Jonah has testicular cancer and as these things go, he needs to have one of his balls removed. Unfortunately, that means he’s going to be rendered infertile and has about a month before his surgery to procreate lest he be rendered forever childless. Of course, he can’t just pop his seed in the freezer like you’d think because as it turns out, he has some sort of rare, un-freezable sperm. Inconvenient for him, very convenient for the plot.

From here, Not Suitable for Children could have quite easily descended into semen-joke heavy, boobs-a-plenty territory as Jonah tries to find someone to knock up in outrageous fashion. If the flick had been of the Hollywood cauldron, it’s likely that’s what would have happened – but this being Aussie cinema, we’re taken down a more sentimental path as Jonah attempts to reconcile with various exes, faces rejection time after time and tries to comes to terms with the prospect that he may well never be a Dad. To the film’s credit, all this is made all the more likeable by the fact that the film’s leading man is played by Ryan Kwanten – who’s been swanning around shirtless lately in HBO’s True Blood, but as the late-1990s Home and Away devotees among us will recall is Sydney born and bred.

Seemingly in keeping with all of his previous roles, Kwanten plays the loveable – if a bit dim – looker (really, this man should not have so much trouble finding a girl to knock up). Typecasting aside, he’s good in the role, as are his supports Sarah Snook as fellow housemate Stevie and Ryan Corr as Gus. So, how does Not Suitable for Children fare all up? Well, most importantly: it’s enjoyable. The plot may be a tad by-numbers – though it marginally avoids the totally cliché ending – and the whole cancer thing may be a bit glossed over, but it’s funny without being dumb and gives a real humanism to a plot that could very easily have turned crass. Not Suitable for Children might not break any new ground for Australian cinema, but it’s proof that we can do rom-coms with the best of them. And after Kings of Mykonos, that’s good to know.

Not Suitable For Children hits cinemas July 12.

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