Doing it for the kids
SNAP poll: What was the last Aussie romantic comedy that made you really, genuinely laugh? That made you barrack for its central couple? That hung its hat on a decent premise? That was set in a world you recognise?
Hold up, change that: What was the last romantic comedy period that did any of those things?
Meet Not Suitable for Children. It’s the anti- Heigl, anti- J- Lo, anti- Aniston romcom. It’s not a million miles from top- shelf Hugh Grant rom- com, but think more About a Boy urban authenticity than Notting Hill foppery.
The conceit that brings our hero couple together in Not Suitable for Children does not involve mistaken identity, handcuffs or 27 bridesmaids’ dresses.
It feels fresh even though, at first, it might strike you as odd: Man finds cancerous lump and is told he won’t be able to father children – that’s a comedy?
Yes it is, thanks to the journey it propels 20- something party boy Jonah (Australia’s True Blood hunk Ryan Kwanten) on to.
Jonah is the ultimate no- care, no-responsibility guy. He’s good with the ladies, at least for one night.
But that startling diagnosis jolts him awake – he wants more than the legendary parties he and housemate Gus ( Packed to the Rafters’ Ryan Corr) throw in their Sydney terrace house.
He wants a future as a father and if it’s going to happen, it’s got to happen in the next three weeks.
With the matchmaking help of third roomie and long- time friend Stevie ( Sarah Snook) he tries every avenue. Old girlfriends. A lesbian couple. A 40- something career woman. But there are no takers for his seed. All eyes turn to Stevie . . . Will they or won’t they?
The success of Not Suitable for Children is that by the time Jonah and Stevie get around to even considering this last- ditch option, you’ll be cheering them on. And formulaic falls by the wayside as director Peter Templeman ( a short- film Oscar nominee in 2007) steers a snappy script by Offspring creator Michael Lucas around corners less- travelled. The vibe they create is youthful, but not exclusionary.
The lead trio make an endearing bunch. Kwanten, as Jonah, plays it kind of bewildered – a dishevelled man- child forced into growing up, but not doing the best job.
Snook ( already winning comparisons to Emma Stone with her red hair and smarts) is forced to be the sensible one, but runs with it, hitting the right notes of sarcasm and support.
And Corr steals all the big laughs as the good- natured Gus, who is too busy planning his next big party to really get what is going on with his two best mates.
Not Suitable for Children doesn’t shy away from the awkward stuff, peppering the laughs with doses of reality.
It’s fun and it’s sincere. And that may be an even bigger miracle than finding a babymama from scratch in three weeks.
FRESH AND FUNNY: Ryan Kwanten and Sarah Snook.