Film therapy: Kenny (2006)

kenny2Kenny is a 2006 mockumentary about a fairdinkum working-class Aussie bloke who provides porta loos (or porta potties) to festivals around Melbourne. It was brilliant and had me fooled right up until the credits. Shane Jacobson and his brother won all kinds of awards for it and rightly so. P guessed it was fictional about halfway through but Shane Jacobson was so convincing as Kenny the plumber that I was convinced there was some truth behind the whole thing.

“It takes a certain kind of person to do what I do… No-one’s ever impressed, no-one’s ever fascinated…. If you’re a fireman, all the kids will want to jump in back of the truck and follow you to a fire. There’s going to be no kids willing to do that with me. So, I don’t do it to impress people. It’s a job, it’s my trade, and I actually think I’m pretty good at it. ” – Kenny

Kenny is just a decent bloke with a real camaraderie with his co-workers on the splash down crew. He takes pride in doing a good job. And somehow manages to keep his dignity in the most undignified situations. He treats others with kindness and respect even when it isn’t reciprocated. After he retrieves a wedding ring from the toilet, the relieved women doesn’t even acknowledge her knight with slimy plunger. Kenny is sorely in need of a little respect. – Jane Segal (commenting at IMDB)

Good on ya, Ken (or rather Shane and Clayton Jacobson). Incidentally, Clayton does a great job of portraying Kenny’s yuppie older brother and Shane’s son and dad add to the authenticity. A lot of it, as you would expect, is toilet humour but it’s excellently done. Watching the scenes at the racetrack, I turned to P and said, “Wow, those Aussie guys are pretty rough. I’m glad I don’t live there.”

Here, an empathic, gas-masked Kenny emerges from the septic tank to reason with Sammy, one of his dumber employees:

Sammy: [talking to Kenny while he is cleaning out a septic tank] ….always going on about his bloody marriage. Is this gonna go right, or is that gonna go bloody right? Is he gonna marry her or not?
Kenny: [through his mask, in the septic tank] I should say so, they’ve got a wedding.
Sammy: He’s either gonna marry or, or not marry her. If he ain’t gonna marry her, I’ll give her one.
Kenny: Look, mate,
[takes his mask off, comes up from the tank]
Kenny: I… I understand what you’re saying, I really do. And I am hearing you, but, mate, what you got to understand is there is a smell in here that is going to outlast religion, all right? So can you just… give my ears a rest for a minute? Just give it a break for a sec, and we’ll talk about it later, all right? I appreciate it mate.

Verdict: The comedy will make you laugh, the storyline will tug at your heartstrings and the underlying metaphor is deep.

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5 Responses to Film therapy: Kenny (2006)

  1. Courtney says:

    “a lot of it, as you would expect, is toilet humor, but it’s excellently done” – t hat is probably the first time that sentence has ever been written/uttered!

  2. Bee says:

    “There is a smell in here that is going to outlast religion . . .”

    classic line!

  3. doctordi says:

    A deceptively simple story, well told – I agree with your assessment, Pete. I really enjoyed Kenny, and can remember getting quite choked up in parts (and not from the expected bouts of revulsion!).

  4. Litlove says:

    Courtney’s comment really made me laugh! I’m not a great movie-goer, Pete, but I’m glad to know that you loved this, and I think the way that it is filmed to make art look as if it were reality is very intriguing. What’s that seduction all about, I wonder?

  5. Pete says:

    Courtney – LOL. I meant that it was tastefully done. Not being gross for the sake of being gross but rather some idiomatic expressions such as “poo tickets” for loo paper.

    Bee – Absolutely. I think that expression will stand the test of time too 😉

    Di – I saw it described as the funniest Aussie comedy since Muriel’s Wedding, which says a lot. That wry Aussie humour really works for me.

    Litlove – Yes, I was thinking about that (after you commented). Maybe it’s a bit like reality TV in that we expect that more genuine emotion will arise from apparently unscripted situations. And it’s also a game to see what’s made up and what’s real. The fact that the brothers and the son and the dad were all from the same (real) family made it very convincing and there were lots of “real” moments. For me it was a bit like realising that someon’t told you a lie and then trying to work out the exact level of distortion. If the whole thing is mostly made up, then you have to revise most of what you previously thought.

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