Directed by PJ Hogan, who bought us Muriel's Wedding, it is the story of an unruly Australian family who are perceived as 'mental' in their home town. The film cleverly looks at the notion of what is normal and presents the idea that actually everyone is a little bit mental in his or her own way, on some level. Something I totally agree with - I think everyone has had a mental moment or made a mental decision in their lifetime, and oddly that is what makes us normal.
Similar to Muriel's Wedding as in it is centred on a matriarch character that has been neglected and overlooked and as a result is losing grasp on reality. Both of these films take a sad undertone but twist it into something that makes us laugh but you are never far away from being pulled back in a second to the reality that life is hard and often sad.
PJ Hogan makes excellent 'people' movies - no effects and action and no guns and explosions here, just brilliantly developed characters that you can totally identify with, that are perfectly cast and wonderfully portrayed by each actor. There is no weak link in this cast.
The first 20 minutes portrays the ins and outs of the highly dysfunctional family, and the moment when the mother is committed following a breakdown - a hilarious scene played out by the charming Rebecca Gibney.
The kids are left alone and in need of help and guidance and support but rather than taking control himself, the philandering politician father hires a 'nanny' to take care of the kids and fix everything for him. The 'nanny' comes in the form of Toni Collette – cue crazy antics and some important life lessons – but does she have a dark ulterior motive in mind?
Toni Collette is a favourite of mine - I loved her as Muriel and I remember seeing her in The Sixth Sense years later, and being blown away that it was the same person. Such a wonderful character actor, she manages to transform herself and become someone totally different in each film she does, which is kind of the point of acting, although there are many actors who cannot do this. Her character in this is no exception - another stand out performance that had me shocked and laughing out loud at her brassy nature, but also being completely charmed by her and routing for her to come through at the end.
There are loads of stand out performances, some incredibly moving scenes and loads of pant wettingly funny moments. And the ending? Well, you will just have to go and see it, but oh goodness it's amazing!
This is such a great Aussie film, you would be mental not to see it and to love it.
Film Details Rating MA15 (Strong coarse language and themes)
Release Date: Thursday, 4 October 2012
Length 1hrs 56min
Main Cast Toni Collette, Liev Schreiber, Anthony LaPaglia, Kerry Fox, Caroline Goodall, Rebecca Gibney, Deborah Mailman, Bethany Whitmore, Lily Sullivan
Movie Director P.J. Hogan
Distributor Universal Pictures