Funny enough to give scatology a good name, Aussie mockumentary “Kenny” is a consistently amusing and surprisingly touching portrait of a loveable lug who installs toilet blocks at public events. Spearheaded by Shane Jacobson’s ace central perf, pic transcends the yecch factor to emerge as the funniest local laffer in years. Die-cast in Aussie vernacular and colloquialisms, “Kenny” looks set for hearty biz on home turf despite running a tad too long, but will need careful marketing to occupy offshore outhouses. Pic went out locally Aug. 17.
Film grew out of a short that played successfully at fests Down Under in 2005. Feature-length expansion was funded by Splashdown, a company in the corporate bathroom rental biz, and the end result could be described as the happy marriage of corporate video and mockumentary-with-a-heart from the Christopher Guest school.
Key to auds’ willingness to go the distance with a film about a toilet installer is the disarming enthusiasm of its central character. Intro’d as Splashdown’s top man in the field, the burly, 35-ish Kenny Smyth (Shane Jacobson) delights in taking viewers on a guided tour of company facilities and generally discussing bathroom business as if he’s talking about the weather. Such comic demystification encourages viewers to relax with the subject matter.
Divorced from a harridan who’s heard but never seen, Kenny has a son he adores (Jesse Jacobson) and a clean-freak father (real-life dad Ronald Jacobson).
An optimist whose generosity is an invitation for society at large to walk all over him, Kenny is given the emotional reward he deserves en route to the (real) “Pumper and Cleaner” convention in Nashville. In what may be a meet-cute first, the pro-active plumber catches the eye of stewardess Jackie (Eve von Bibra) while fixing a malfunctioning toilet on her plane. Pic hits top gear as the couple engages in a remarkably innocent romance while Kenny wins a massive contract with Japanese clients.
Jacobson’s faultless perf as the wide-eyed working-class hero is complemented by spot-on casting of family members, Splashdown employees and little-knowns in support roles. Authenticity is boosted by placing Jacobson in the middle of Splashdown operations at major events, including the Melbourne Cup horse race.
Minus a few off-mike lines of dialogue, pic is technically OK, with Richard Pleasance’s unobtrusive score adding to the down-home feel. Transfer to 35mm bears occasional scars of muddiness inevitable from multiple DV sources.