Saturday, November 10, 2012

Kenny (2006)

This Australian comedy about a man who services porta-potties should a-pee-l to many movie-goers.

Folks, this is one of the funniest comedies this dedicated film fan has watched in a long while. There was such a ballyhoo when Crocodile Dundee with Paul Hogan hit North American screens in 1986. Where was the heavy box office traffic for this fantastic comedy that followed 20 years later?

Kenny offers many, many laugh-out loud moments. But there's also a tender side too, with a hero whose personal life is, in many ways, in the toilet.

Kenny (Shane Jacobson) works for Splash Down in Melbourne. The business rents portable toilets for events such as music festivals, air shows and horse races. Kenny and his crew set the loos up before anyone else arrives and take them down when everyone else has left. He notes his job offers him an opportunity to work outside, see many events others don't, but it's lonely too.

"No one's ever impressed with what you do," he says early on in the 99-minute film.

Kenny blames his job for his wife leaving him after 14 years. He observes people don't want to hug him or shake his hand. His bitter father (real-life dad Ronald Jacobson) urges him to get another job. He's embarrassed at what his son does for a living.

"I didn't put you through school for you to become a f------ glorified turd burglar," his father berates him during a rare visit to his trailer home.

His wife's death has distanced relations between him and his two sons. Kenny notices the relationship between the trio is "Christmas cards at 20 paces." His brother wants him to change when he shows up in his work clothes at a bar for a birthday bash.

Shot in documentary style, kenny follows our hero on the job as he deals with his employees, one worries a lot, a new hire works hard, but doesn't have a good feel for good customer relations. A university student, who pleaded for a job so he could earn some extra money, balks at the job's demands including retrieving a woman's wedding ring that's ended up in one of Splash Down's toilets.

"He's probably studying to be an accountant or something," Kenny notes with disdain. "He can't even clean a s---ter."

"I thought this would be corporate bathrooms," the student counters.

"You reckon all the girls on Virgin Airlines are virgins?" replies Kenny.

There's vandalism to clean up, fueled by what Kenny notes as revelers who are "full of the Batman juice" or have eaten "fruity disco biscuits." One chap notes, with a black marker, he "woz here" in Kenny's portable toilet.

"This is his claim to fame," Kenny notes as he scrubs up the mess. "He's been to our s---ter."

The film's best sequence when Kenny and company are at a stock car racing event. Punks in one area of the venue regularly torch the portable toilets at the evening's end. Kenny wants to end the tradition with some careful strategy.

"Our job's to save the toilets," he tells his staff.

Bad timing on the race track, fisticuffs, Molotov cocktails and an unexpected customer all add up to an extremely hilarious scene conceived by Jacobson and his brother, Clayton, who also directs.

"No man should be set on fire to save one of his s---ters," Kenny says after a limb becomes engulfed in flames.

Kenny's a big guy, but he's a softy at heart. When his boss taps him to attend the Pumper and Cleaner Environmental Expo International in Nashville, his friendly, outgoing manner attracts a fine-looking stewardess and the start of a relationship with several Japanese businessmen who need many deluxe portable toilets complete with televisions.

Kenny is a celebration of the working man doing essential work that no one else respects. It's about taking pride in one's talents and not refusing to change careers because of what others think.

"Plumbing is all I've ever known, but I don't think I've ever been envious of anyone else cause this is the life I got," he says.

Bodily fluid humour gets a lot of play in mostly youth-oriented comedies these days. Here's a film centred on a job dealing with urine and feces, but there's little in-your-face grossness here. There's a brief reference to pee on the floor with Kenny lamenting the difficulty some men have in hitting the mark.

Kenny is a great comedy with a heart. Watch this film.

RATING: 10/10

FUN FACTS: Shane Jacobson appeared in the 2012 reboot, The Bourne Legacy.

Much of Kenny's cast is on screen for the first, and only, time including Alf Scerri and Glenn and Haley Preusker.

Vicki Musso is Kenny's cranky ex-wife and the woman who loses her wedding ring in the toilet. Thank you, Internet Movie Database!

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