Not Suitable for Children Review

Ryan Kwanten stars in Not Suitable for Children, a black comedy showing in London’s Filmfest Australia.

It’s always party central at the house Jonah (Ryan Kwanten) shares in Sydney with his friends Stevie (Sarah Snook) and Gus (Ryan Corr). But everything changes when Jonah is diagnosed with testicular cancer. The treatment will be effective and he is expected to make a full recovery…but he will no longer be fertile. And all of a sudden, Jonah realises that deep down he wants to father a child…and he has three weeks left in order to do it.

Not Suitable for Children is a feature debut for director Peter Templeman after short films (one of which, The Saviour from 2005, was Oscar-nominated) and television work. Written by Michael Lucas from a story by himself and Templeman, Not Suitable for Children comes on like a very black comedy that certainly lives up to its title. The opening scene, where Jonah finds the lump while receiving a blow job, certainly sets the tone for much of what follows. And it is often very funny, sitting on the fine line between hilarity and excruciation. With the help and encouragement from Stevie and Gus, Jonah in his clumsy and not especially emotionally fluent way goes back over his list of sexual partners to see if any of them would be willing to be knocked up by him within three weeks. When he gets the not unexpected answer from all of them, Stevie tries to organise an “arrangement” between Jonah and a lesbian workmate of hers and her partner, with embarrassing results. And Stevie soon finds out she has issues of her own.

Ryan Kwanten (best known for his role in True Blood) manages the feat of making Jonah likeable, when he easily could be seen as anything but. Sarah Snook was a new name to me: this is only her second feature after television work (she had a small role in Sleeping Beauty). She makes Stevie very likeable and comes close to stealing the whole film, even if she does overplay the scene with the lesbian workmate referred to above. She, and the film, are a little undermined by predictable turns it takes in the second half. Like many films which make a virtue of their own tastelessness, Not Suitable for Children reveals itself to be a rather softcentred romantic comedy at heart.

Not Suitable for Children was reviewed from the Filmfest Australia showing at the Clapham Picturehouse, London, on 14 September. There will be a second showing at the Hackney Picturehouse on 21 September. UK release date is TBC.


Updated: Sep 20, 2012

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