All kidding aside – Not Suitable for Children review (Sydney Film Festival)

Not Suitable for Children - Starring Ryan Kwanten, Sarah Snook, and Ryan Corr. Directed by Peter Templeman. By Simon Miraudo.

Not Suitable for Children played the Sydney Film Festival. It opens in Australian cinemas July 12, 2012.

Peter Templeman‘s feature debut Not Suitable for Children is a genial and occasionally very funny romantic comedy with the added benefit of being a showcase for one of the best break-out Australian performances in some time. Ryan Kwanten is ostensibly the name above the title, but for all his charm and puppy-dog-eyed enthusiasm he can’t quite keep up with the supernova-ing Sarah Snook whom he plays opposite, and eventually surrenders the entire film to.

Kwanten plays Jonah, a twenty-something who throws lavish house-parties in the Inner West of Sydney, for which people pay money to attend. He and his two roommates, Stevie (Snook) and Gus (Ryan Corr), earn the equivalent of a weekly wage from just one of these shindigs; so, for all intents and purposes, they are Professional Party-Havers. This is one of those jobs that only exists in the movies, and the sooner you make peace with that and move on the sooner you can begin to partake of the fun that this trio are paid to concoct.

After getting an impromptu inspection from one of his groupies, Jonah learns he has a lump on his testicle. The doctor assures him it can be easily removed, and he should be able to make a quick recovery. It’s not all good news, however; the op will render him infertile. Now, Jonah’s never considered himself the type to settle down and have some kids, but his biological clock has suddenly begun ticking rather loudly. He enquires his ex (Bojana Novakovic) as to whether she’d like to birth his spawn, and she rightly laughs him off. So begins a frantic search through his little black book (or, it’s modern day equivalent: Facebook friends) to find a lady to carry his seed. Stevie suggests he arrange something with an older woman, or a lesbian couple. She personally would never want a child of her own though. Never ever. Wouldn’t dream of it.

If you’ve never seen a romcom before, you may be surprised to learn that Jonah and Stevie begin entertaining the idea of forging a child of their own. It’s a cliché we see coming nine months away, but it’s mercifully brought to the periphery far sooner than you would normally expect. In fact, once screenwriter Michael Lucas drops the pretence that Jonah would have a child with anyone but Stevie, Not Suitable for Children comes into its own. It may be a little hard to swallow Jonah’s immediate transition from swinging-bachelor to desperate-daddy, but cancer can sometimes provide revelations that drastic. Stevie is the true focus of the film; we see her weighing up the options of motherhood with humour and heart, evolving accordingly over the running time. Kwanten is a likable lead, and Corr gets some funny moments to himself, but Snook is the real star here. Clearly Templeman understands this too, giving her as much screen time as humanly possible. It’s an assured and promising first picture from this writer and director, but if Not Suitable for Children is to be remembered for anything it’ll be as the movie that introduced us to Snook.

3.5/5

Check out Simon’s other reviews here.

Not Suitable for Children played the Sydney Film Festival. It opens in Australian cinemas July 12, 2012.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Reviews Wrap: I Am Eleven, Not Suitable for Children and The King is Dead! | AFI blog - August 2, 2012

    [...] QuickFlix critic Simon Miraudo is just one of many reviewers to single out actress Sarah Snook as the breakout star of the film. He finds Not Suitable for Children to be “a genial and occasionally very funny romantic comedy with the added benefit of being a showcase for one of the best break-out Australian performances in some time.” Miraudo argues that though some of the characters’ quick changes of heart may be hard to swallow, these are plausibly justified by the drastic circumstances of cancer. Andrew Urban of Urban Cinefile echoes similar concerns but is eventually won over, writing that the “impressive screenplay and the fine performances combine with Peter Templeman’s confident direction for a satisfying result.” [...]

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