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Saturday, October 17, 2015

KENNY -- Movie Review by Porfle

(NOTE: This review originally appeared online in 2008.)

KENNY (2006) is an Australian mockumentary about an average shlub named Kenny (Shane Jacobson) who works for a company called "Splashdown" that supplies and maintains porta-johns for various public events.

Kenny explains to us all the ins and outs of the business as he goes about his job, while dealing with various elements of his personal life which include a hostile ex-wife, a disaffected young son, a grumpy old man, and a brother who doesn't want to have anything to do with him. Through it all, Kenny keeps his spirits up and tries to find satisfaction in the little moments of happiness that life holds in store.

It's interesting to discover some of the logistics involved in making sure that hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of people have a place to do their business. When talking to prospective clients over the phone, Kenny asks if alcohol will be served at the event (which raises the liquid-to-solid waste ratio considerably) and what kinds of food will be available--especially curry.

When he isn't working, we see him taking his son to visit his elderly father, who constantly expresses disappointment in his line of work. Much of the middle section of the film details Kenny's trip to Nashville to attend a big waste expo, where he has a brief, platonic fling with an Australian stewardess he met on the plane.

Most mockumentaries I've seen had some semblance of a story, but KENNY doesn't bother to tell much of one. As a character study, it's pretty interesting, and Shane Jacobson is about the best choice imaginable to play this character.

Despite lots of wisecracking dialogue and a few feeble attempts at broad humor, there's not much to laugh at here--in fact, I'm at a loss to discern what some of the critics have found to be so "hilarious" about this film. It's really not much funnier than a real documentary on the subject would've been.

There's a good deal of pathos, since Kenny's basically a nice, well-meaning guy who's doing the best he can while trying to navigate through his strained personal relationships and other setbacks. Although he does achieve some progress in getting along with his father and son, most of the storylines don't really go anywhere, and we're left simply watching the guy going about his life for awhile.

Even the Nashville scenes consist mainly of Kenny wandering wide-eyed through a maze of futuristic toilet technology or stupidly not getting anywhere with the stewardess who clearly wants to make whoopee with him. At the end, he gets some waste-related revenge against a stranger who irritates him, but this isn't much of a personal victory or a laugh-provoking finale.

The extras include some mainly dull deleted scenes, a trailer, and a commentary with the director and star. I tried to listen to it, but not only was Shane's heavy Australian accent doing me in, but he sounded drunk, so I might as well have been listening to my washing machine chugging its way through a heavy load.  [NOTE: Not sure what extras the current DVD editions of KENNY may have, if any.]

The Jacobson brothers (director Clayton and star Shane, plus brother Jesse and dad Ronald) have put together a mildly-amusing and fairly diverting slice-of-life story about a professional porta-john purveyor. But there's no build-up to sustain interest and no real catharsis, and at the end I just didn't feel much about it one way or the other. There aren't even very many really good poop jokes, or much in the way of jokes at all. Considering the subject matter, I guess I should commend the makers of KENNY for their subtlety and restraint, but come on--it's a movie about toilet humor. Where's Larry the Cable Guy when you really need him?


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