A knight in shining overallsKENNY






Part One –   Film Information

Title –         Kenny
Year –         2006
Genre –       Comedy
Rating –      M
Duration –   100 minutes
Released –   17 2006 in Australia

 


Director –    Clayton Jacobson  

Producer –   Clayton Jacobson, Rohan Timlock
Writers –     Clayton Jacobson, Shane Jacobson

           
Cast –         Shane Jacobson as Kenny
                  Ronald Jacobson as Kenny’s Dad
                  Jesse Jacobson as Kenny’s Son
                  Chris Davis as Pat
                  Ian Dryden as Sammy
                  Eve von Bibra as Jacqui
                  Morihiko Hasebe as Sushi Cowboy
                           

Credits –     Co Producer: Shane Jacobson

              Production Manager/Director’s Assistant: Nicole Bardy
              Editor: Clayton Jacobson, Sean Lander
              Visual Effects: Matt Omond, Keith Meure
Stunt Supervisor: Nash Edgerton
Stunts: Warwick Sadler
              Sound Designer/Music/Sound Effects: Craig Carter
              Music Supervisor: Norman Parkhill
Sound Mixer: Peter Smith
Original Music: Richard Pleasance

Awards

Australian Film Institute

Year

Result

Award

Category/Recipient(s)

2006

Won

AFI Award

Best Lead Actor
Shane Jacobson

Nominated

AFI Award

Best Direction
Clayton Jacobson

Best Editing
Clayton Jacobson
Sean Lander

Best Film
Clayton Jacobson
Rohan Timlock

Best Screenplay - Original
Shane Jacobson
Clayton Jacobson

Best Supporting Actor
Ronald Jacobson

 

Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards

Year

Result

Award

Category/Recipient(s)

2006

Won

FCCA Award

Best Actor in a Lead Role
Shane Jacobson

Best Screenplay - Original
Shane Jacobson
Clayton Jacobson

Nominated

FCCA Award

Best Director
Clayton Jacobson

Best Film

 

IF Awards

Year

Result

Award

Category/Recipient(s)

2006

Won

IF Award

Best Feature Film
Clayton Jacobson (director)
Rohan Timlock (producer)
Shane Jacobson (co-producer)

Best Script
Clayton Jacobson
Shane Jacobson

Best Sound
Craig Carter
Peter D. Smith

Nominated

IF Award

Best Director
Clayton Jacobson

Best Editing
Clayton Jacobson
Sean Lander

 

           

Interviews – The following are a sample of various interviews with the   
                  filmmakers

1.)        efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=2089
2.)        sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/sixtyminutes/stories/2006_10_15/story_1797.asp
3.)        www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2007-02-08/movie_interview2.php
4.)        www.evolvemedia.com.au/index.cfm?p=2492
5.)        mymooneevalley.com.au/2006/10/brothers_flush_with_success.php
6.)        www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s1697827.htm

Reviews – The following are a sample of reviews the film received

1.)        www.dvdbits.com/reviews.asp?id=3376
2.)        www.smh.com.au/news/film/kenny-takes-thrones-to-uk/2007/02/07/1170524163942
3.)        www.smh.com.au/news/entertainment/lifting-the-lid/2006/08/09/1154802964870.html
4.)        www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s1697820.htm
5.)        au.movies.yahoo.com/Kenny/movie/15525/featured-review/
6.)        www.youngmedia.org.au/mediachildren/07_04/07_04_253_kenny.htm
7.)        www.theage.com.au/news/film-reviews/kenny/2006/08/16/1155407887541.html
8.)        www.cinephilia.net.au/show_amovie.php?movieid=3190
9.)        nicholasfurgiuele.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!3683314604689410!308.entry

On-line Presence – Placing the title Kenny in an Internet search engine gives endless web page hits relating to the Jacobson brothers production. The abundance of information available on the Internet about Kenny today is primarily a result of the success it has experienced within Australia as the Jacobson brothers have been able to create a film with their high aspirations and humorous visions. Most of the on-line literature about this film occurs as a comparison of Australian comedies that have come before it as it is the first real attempt of a feature film by Clayton Jacobson to figure predominantly on the small screen in Australia. Kenny was primarily aimed at the Australian audience so it is not as accessible online as other films, which receive more international recognition. The websites which do give reference to Kenny include all the major relevant information to do with film and its production.

Collection – The majority of information collected has been done so over the internet as that was the most suitable tool to locate all the necessary requirements. The internet was heavily used when searching for information about Kenny. Most of the information regarding cast and credit information were found on the Internet Movie Database where as interviews and reviews to do with the film were found using a general search engine. Another website which provided me with a lot of assistance was The Oz Film Database provided on the unit homepage. This enabled me to have a fair idea of how to structure my research on the film and the type of information that was required to attempt a critical review.  


Part Two – Critical Review


Synopsis – Kenny revolves around the character of the same name who’s occupation is a portaloo toilet installer. Kenny sees himself as a plumber, while his family are ashamed of Kenny and find it embarrassing to be in his company. His wife has left him and has taken their son. Kenny’s life is his job and this is something in which he is proud of regardless of the thoughts of those around him. Kenny is good at his job and refuses to change careers to satisfy others.
The movie follows Kenny and the adventures that he follows from his routine day to day activities to the hustle and bustle of the real world. When Kenny’s boss asks him to attend a trade expo in Nashville, Tennessee the significance of Kenny’s job draws on a whole new level. Kenny steps out of his overalls for the first time and nervously boards an international flight symbolising the distance between the two worlds which have now caught up on Kenny and collided. His discomfort is evident, but by both breaking and fixing one of the plane's toilets, he strikes up a friendship with an air hostess.




Kenny fumbles his way through the trade expo and unfamiliar corporate world. He inadvertently schmoozes a deal to sell his company's 'corporate bathroom' to a Japanese firm, after having befriended a Japanese executive whom he calls 'The Sushi Cowboy'. The journey is made all the more comfortable for Kenny with the appearance of Jacqui the air hostess. The friendship gives the film an emotional tendency away from the toilet humour associated with Kenny’s job.
Upon Kenny’s return to Australia, Kenny is faced with both career and family dilemmas. His father is in hospital and needs an operation. His boss offers him a managerial position which would involve trading his overalls for a suit. Even though this would please his family, Kenny decides that his current role makes him who he is, and therefore decides to stick to the camaraderie of his mates and concentrate on his personal life, of which he holds so dearly to him.

Commentary – Kenny is a plumber who works specifically with arranging portable toilets for public events and this is pretty much the main gist of the film. The camera follows Kenny during his travels and he talks to the camera explaining what is going on. The film feels like more of a documentary than a comedy because of this. Combining the two genres together would therefore see Kenny more as a mockumentary than anything else. At times it feels as if the cameraman is just someone who has been asked to go out and follow Kenny and get a few shots for a quick news story later that night. It feels rushed and jumpy but this kind of gives the film its everyday life appeal. There are scenes in which the camera is in the car with Kenny in the front passenger seat. It focuses on Kenny driving, then on the road ahead from Kenny’s viewpoint and then on his son in the back seat, via the rear view mirror. It is a clever tool to use but sometimes it gives the impression that the subject matter at hand isn’t that important.

Another reason in which the film feels more like a documentary is the common use of the term ‘I’ from Kenny’s viewpoint. It is often heard when his voice is being used as that of the narrator but Kenny isn’t exactly telling a story he is simply just explaining what he does and why he does it. He feels passionately about his job and works hard to get the best out of it. This is depicted with Kenny being flown over to the United States to attend a toilet convention, possibly the pinnacle of his career and perhaps the highpoint of the film. The film has practically no story which is why I feel Kenny fails to live up to comic standards. There is no real sense of a beginning, middle or end and there is no giant problem Kenny has to overcome or solve. It just feels like a chain of events which take place. There are touching moments centring on romance and the health of Kenny’s sick father but these seem to appear as blips on the radar with the story retreating back to Kenny getting and his work. If the film had of used Kenny’s relationship with his dad or the possible romance between him and Jackie the relationships between the characters could have created more of a story which may have provided the opportunity for some humour.


The film never really establishes any other characters besides Kenny so there is little interaction between them which I feel limits the film to become naturally funny. Besides Kenny we are introduced to two of his work colleagues, his dad, brother and son and a woman who he becomes friendly with whilst in America. The characters feel kind of distant and as their relationships aren’t exactly carrying the film it is hard to create any humour from them. The majority of the jokes and gags revolve around Kenny and his job. More often than not they are generally puns to do with toilet industry or fart gags. With these being the two main comic elements it is hard for the film to be carried by the audience being in stitches and the lack of a positive storyline gives the same effect.

Critical Uptake – I think there are two ways in which a film can be labelled a success. If the film is as good as similarly styled generic films before it and has a strong following then it can be regarded as successful. If it is also the only good film at the cinemas showing at the present time then it will probably be more successful than the films showing at the same time making it successful in comparison. Kenny was a successful film using this comparison. Its popularity was evident with the awards and reviews it received. However as a comedy I believe its success should only be judged by the films which have come and gone before it. Affective Australian comedies have told a story, a funny story. In comparison I believe Kenny fails to do either, tell a story or be funny. The film just gives off more of a documented feel than an actual story. If it had have been structured and advertised as a documentary then I feel its success would have been greater warranted. I believe its popularity revolves around the development of the main character Kenny. All Australians will be able to relate to him in some way through his warmth, kindness and caring attitude. The film is very well acted but with the way it was marketed the rest just falls away. If Kenny were written and directed as a documentary then perhaps its accolades and popularity may not have been as strong but perhaps as a movie it would have been more developed and structured making more sense.

Films Uptake and Current Place in Society – It’s quite sad when a film has to revolve around toilet humour to be a success. What is even sadder is that this is usually the first thought when it comes to the humour used in Kenny. The film doesn’t rely on fart gags of the sort which is a good thing but its association with the vulgar type of comedy is a misrepresentation of the film and a negative image. The comedy behind Kenny relies on the character himself not particularly the work in which he does. The common misconception though is that the film is funny because of the work in which he does. I find this a frown on society and a lean toward what has become humorous over the past few years with the maturity of adolescents. There is always a certain demographic which will find toilet humour funny, it will always be the case. With Kenny being labelled as a film with this humour then it limits its target audience where in fact it should appeal to everybody because of the lack of the fore mentioned. With recent spoofs of horror films being very successful it has started a sad spiral which as seen the comic value of films being taken less seriously by young film goers today than that of previous years. A comedy has stopped being made to be seen as clever and has started becoming stupid and demeaning rather than intellectual.


Films Generic Situation in Australia – The film I feel as an Australian production is very much genuine. Australian films tend to allow the characters to carry the story rather than the story itself. Kenny does this very well. As a comedy I think the Jacobson brothers need to try and realise what it is they really want to develop. If you compare their first up effort with that of the Working Dog Company the gap between the two is vast. Although the Working Dog Company had previous attempts through television its first feature film The Castle was an Australian masterpiece. The script was brilliantly written and honestly funny. To me it leads the way in its comic genre. To situate Kenny in the same sort of mould would seem a bit of an insult. It has to belong to the same genre but the Jacobson brothers first up effort falls a fair way short in the laughs category but as Kenny says in the movie, “the chef always burns his first batch of scones.”

What Kenny does produce is a real typical Australian character which will be remembered. Not too many Australian films produce a character that can last the ages like that of Mick Dundee of Crocodile Dundee fame. Kenny is the first real challenger I feel in the comic genre. Films which have come before have been very well written but at times the characters aren’t truly believable in their role. Shane Jacobson as Kenny was wonderful and truly deserving of his awards in the Australian Film Industry. His portrayal of the main lead was what carried the film and contributed to its success. This is where relating it to other films gives quite a different outlook. Popular Australian films have always told funny stories in this case Kenny is a funny man doing his job. If only that job could do the job in the comic stakes. Kenny is a fair few laughs short of being funny enough not to be noticed for its flaws in situating itself firmly within the comedic genre.
 

Chris Boyes



Bibliography

Gillard, Garry, Ten Types of Australian Film, Murdoch University, Perth, 2007

Moran, Albert & Vieth, Errol, Film in Australia: An Introduction, CUP, 2006

Neale, Steve, Genre and Hollywood, Routledge, London & New York, 2000

Kenny, Dir Clayton Jacobsen, 2006

The Castle, Dir Rob Sitch, 1997





The following websites were all accessed 25th April 2007

http://www.kennythemovie.com
efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=2089
sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/sixtyminutes/stories/2006_10_15/story_1797.asp
www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2007-02-08/movie_interview2.php
www.evolvemedia.com.au/index.cfm?p=2492
mymooneevalley.com.au/2006/10/brothers_flush_with_success.php
www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s1697827.htm
www.dvdbits.com/reviews.asp?id=3376
www.smh.com.au/news/film/kenny-takes-thrones-to-uk/2007/02/07/1170524163942
www.smh.com.au/news/entertainment/lifting-the-lid/2006/08/09/1154802964870.html
www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s1697820.htm
au.movies.yahoo.com/Kenny/movie/15525/featured-review/
www.youngmedia.org.au/mediachildren/07_04/07_04_253_kenny.htm
www.theage.com.au/news/film-reviews/kenny/2006/08/16/1155407887541.html
www.smh.com.au/news/dvd-reviews/kenny/2006/12/06/1165080989366.html
www.cinephilia.net.au/show_amovie.php?movieid=3190
nicholasfurgiuele.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!3683314604689410!308.entry
thecia.com.au/reviews/k/images/kenny-production-notes
http://www.afc.gov.au/filmsandawards/filmdbsearch.aspx?view=contact&contact=JACOBSOC
http://online.murdoch.edu.au/MED231s1/index.html
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0822389/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenny_(2006_film)
www.google.com
http://online.murdoch.edu.au/MED231s1/main.html