Directed by: Clayton Jacobson
Premise: A pseudo documentary about the life of an Australian plumber who specializes in portable toilets. The story follows Kenny (Shane Jacobson) as he leads crews of other employees at concerts and festivals while also following his difficult relationship with his family.
What Works: Kenny is a very good film and a terrific example of low budget filmmaking. Although it is a pseudo documentary, many of the set pieces in the film are done in such a way that suggest that this could have been real. The acting is very naturalistic and the film is cast with people who look, sound, and behave appropriate to the story, and in that reality the film finds a lot of its humor. Watching Kenny and his crew deal with difficult customers or try to stop vandalism against their products is actually very funny, in part because the situations retain their credibility and the insanity or ridiculousness of everyday life feels real. The character of Kenny, played by Shane Jacobson, is a very lovable blue-collar guy. In lesser hands this could have become the Australian version of Larry the Cable Guy, but Kenny is a much brighter and more interesting character. There is earnestness and charm about him that is extremely disarming and Jacobson’s performance never lets up and never misses a beat, and he is constantly delivering quotable lines. The film takes the viewer through the difficulties of his job and his fractured home life and in that it finds some great material that it is able to use for laughs but also gives the film a sense of reality and shapes Kenny as a character. The film ends up with a lot of highs and lows of emotion that pull on the audience’s heart strings and build a great deal of empathy for the character.
What Doesn’t: The only criticism to be made against the film is its decision to be relatively predictable, especially in the last half hour. There are some familiar narrative stops here, such as Kenny’s difficulty with his ex-wife and his burgeoning romance with an airline stewardess that follow some degree of formula in what is otherwise a very fresh and original film.
DVD extras: Deleted scenes, trailers, commentary track.
Bottom Line: Kenny is a terrific film and it deserves a spot next to other pseudo documentaries like The Blair Witch Project and This is Spinal Tap among the better entries in this particular sub-genre.
Episode: #222 (January 11, 2009)