Not Suitable For Children

Not Suitable For Children begins like an episode of Skins. Housemates Stevie (Sarah Snook), Gus (Ryan Corr) and Jonah (Ryan Kwanten) have hatched a plan: throw awesome house parties, collect money from guests, and profit. Life is perfect, as perfect as life can get when you’re twenty-something and cruising through life – until for Jonah, it isn’t.
During a drunken sexual encounter with “Stalker Becky” (Kathryn Beck), a lump is discovered. “It’s kinda hot…” Becky mumbles. A trip to the doctor later, Jonah learns he has testicular cancer. After surgery, he will not be able to father children. And so an adventure begins. 
Much like a toddler being told he will never ever be able to have ice cream again, Jonah sets off to impregnate someone. Being relatively sane, his housemate Gus tries to foil his plans. His other housemate, Stevie, tries to help. Zany misadventures follow, including more house parties, lies and awkward meetings with exes and lesbian couples. Also sex. Lots of sex.
Kwanten plays Jonah as a perpetually bemused twenty-something. A little naive and often seemingly lost for words, he is an awkward, but charming protagonist in line with many other ‘hip’ Gen Y characters (see also: any character Michael Cera has ever played). Kwanten evokes parts of other characters he has played: Vinnie from Home And Away also was diagnosed with testicular cancer, while Jason Stackhouse of True Blood and Oliver from New Girl have the same wide-eyed earnestness about them. 
The characters are both real and likeable, and while you might shudder at the idea of a clueless, directionless guy like Jonah raising a baby, you can’t help but hope he does manage to convince someone to carry his soon to be doomed sperm. Sarah Snook’s Stevie is rather Emma Stone-like, whether it’s the red hair or her portrayal of a woman who might not know exactly what she wants, but won’t let anyone push her around in the meantime. Gus is the loyal and surprisingly sensible best friend who also provides a lot of the comic relief.
The end doesn’t come as a great surprise, so if you’re after suspense, this isn’t what you’re looking for. Still, the film is a surprisingly good watch. Although it does bear the much maligned label of “Australian movie,” it carefully avoids bogans and crocodiles. 
Instead, it’s more of an indie romantic comedy. By substituting deserts and beaches for train stations and suburban streets, director Peter Templeman creates a relevant film that could easily have been shot in New York or London, which contributes to its all-round appeal. Add to that the long silences and bumbling dialogue of many Gen Y movies, typified in movies such as Juno and Adventureland, and you have a film that manages to be both Australian and enjoyable.
by Sharona Lin
Check out Arts Mitten for more reviews and arts interviews

May 24th 2012
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