Monday, July 15th, 2013


There is an hilariously funny opening sequence when the camera swoops down from the nearby mountains to spot Shirley, a suburban housewife on the verge of a breakdown, hanging out her washing in her garden whilst she recreates the beginning of ‘The Sound of Music’ that she is totally obsessed with. Her five daughters however are not the Von Trapp Family but they too are also obsessed but rather than with Hammerstein in their case its the state of their own lack of mental health : each one claiming to have a more extreme diagnosis than her siblings.
Shirley’s husband Barry is the Mayor of Dolphin Head the small coastal Australian town they live in, and he’s a cheating liar who comes home so rarely he cannot even remember his daughters names. So when Shirley finally loses the plot, Barry has her quietly whisked away to an isolated Mental Institution so that her ‘condition’ doesn’t hurt his re-election campaign, and than he picks up Shaz a foul-mouthed hitchhiker at a loose end and installs her to run the household. 
At first the girls are almost as terrified of this odd strident hippy as they are of her faithful pit-bull terrier who she uses to keep them all towing the line.  Her line that is.  But she assures the girls that they are not mental, they are just individuals, and to prove her point she goes out of her way to shock the family’s uptight neighbor who has made their lives hellish for years.
Shaz has her own back-story but by the time we start to learn this, the steam and energy has run out of the piece, and the details of her convoluted past now makes for a bit of a yawn.
It’s a pity that the whole almost fizzles into such a mess as this rather cute black comedy started out in such high dudgeon.  It reunited writer/director P J Hogan with Toni Collete whose breakthrough movie back in 1994 was the sensational ‘Muriel’s Wedding’.  However even the multi-talented Ms Collete giving it her customary all, cannot save this one …. credit where it is due the really funny parts of this movie are all down to her though. In fact most of the whole cast is well chosen …. I loved both Rebecca Gibney as the mother, and Kerry Fox as the neighbor ….. but I simply have no idea what Liev Schrieber was doing in this as Shaz’s estranged husband, and by the look of things, neither did he.
There are very funny moments in this movie to put a big smile on your face, but you would have be ‘mental’ to watch this through to the end without a remote control in your hands.

Posted by queerguru  at  19:49



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