A film about a hot, young player who has to impregnate a woman fast could be a breeding ground (pun intended) for pure absurdity. Or softcore porn. Thankfully, this feature debut by Peter Templeman rises to the occasion by being more than simple slapstick or an excuse for some gratuitous sex. Instead, screenwriter, Michael Lucas is responsible for a story that brims with heart, soul and sentimentality.
Ryan Kwanten (True Blood) stars as Jonah Reid, the aimless yet loveable male lead and stereotypical, eye candy. He initially appears to be living the high life – in a large house he inherited from his mother – along with his two closest mates, Gus (Ryan Corr (Packed To The Rafters)) and Stevie (Sarah Snook (Sisters Of War, Blood Brothers)). On weekends the trio throw epic house parties. These prove so popular that they can charge a cover and clear as much as other unfortunates forced to work a 40-hour week.
But the plug is soon pulled on this particular party. Reid discovers he has testicular cancer and although he’ll live, he must have a testicle removed. So while modern science provides a win in this regard, Reid soon learns that his sperm cannot be cryogenically frozen. So this man-child is left with the knowledge that he has one month left to become a father. The biological clock is ringing alarm bells and this would-be Daddy becomes extremely clucky to say the least.
Reid soon turns to his little black book and Facebook with gusto, consulting exes, acquaintances and f**k buddies and even trying to come to an open agreement with a lesbian couple or an older, single woman. At best what follows is a fun and vibrant tale sprinkled with laughs. But at worst this is also a predictable story where at times the character development is left a little wanting, as viewers witness main characters making life-altering decisions almost on a whim. Or it could just be that these are desperate times calling for equally desperate measures.
One thing’s for certain, the three leads (Kwanten, Snook and Corr) do an excellent job with the material. The former two have a natural chemistry and Snook is a scene-stealer. She goes from being a background character in the beginning to being one of the film’s stars in her own right once she is forced to re-consider her own negative views on motherhood. And while this is dealt with in a fair and tender manner, the whole cancer diagnosis and treatment – what was the lifeblood of the film – is glossed over in favour of more wild, house party scenes that buzz with fun and hedonism. Sure these look fantastic but ultimately they add very little.
Another redeeming factor of this film is it’s sound documenting of contemporary Australia and in particular, Sydney’s inner west. The scenes set in Oxford Street, Newtown and Stanmore make for a great game of trainspotting, while the soundtrack also boasts excellent local talent including: The Mess Hall, The Bamboos, Husky and Abbe May, along with some stellar international artists like The Black Keys and Gorillaz.
Not Suitable For Children is a good film that could’ve been a lot of things, including a great one. Although it touches on a tough disease, it hardly blows open the doors on it. Instead, the viewer gets to witness an entertaining rom-com that is warm and a thoroughly enjoyable date night film. In short, it’s a love letter to Sydney that proves there’s more to twenty-somethings than just a celebration of the joy of sex.
Review score: 7.5/10
Not Suitable For Children originally screened at the 59th Sydney Film Festival and opens in cinemas nationally on July 12.
Runtime: 97 minutes