2006 - Australia - 99 minutes
Director - Clayton Jacobson
Writers - Clayton Jacobson and Shane Jacobson
My Rating - 5 of 5 Stars
I have to admit that I was totally fooled by Kenny as I did not know it was a mockumentary until the final credits. I’m hoping you think this is because the film is so thoroughly convincing rather than I am really gullible. No matter, because this is an absolute gem of a film that tickles your funny bone over and over and also tugs away at your heart.
Kenny Smyth likes to refer to himself as a plumber, but in reality, he installs and services portable toilets. Not only is he very good at his job, he is very good at life and is truly an every-man’s philosopher. The wisdom that springs from his mouth is hilarious and sincere, and it just makes you feel good to listen to him talk.
Kenny works for Splash Down - a real company whose owner helped to finance the film. Splash Down is a very large company that supplies portable toilets for many huge events in Australia, and Kenny is a valued member of the work force. He has a work ethic to be admired - and pondered by his less enthusiastic workmates.
A divorced man with a pre-adolescent son, Kenny has a strained relationship with his ex-wife. This is through no fault of his own as his wife is the living definition of a bitch. Kenny absorbs her abuse in the same way that he deals with abuse from customers with a, “Let’s work it out, Love,” attitude that makes him a lovable bear of a man. He never loses his temper or composure until the final scene of the film, and the results of that loss of control is side-splitting fun.
All of the people in Kenny’s personal life look down upon him because of his trade. His “more successful” older brother has basically disassociated himself from the family, and Kenny’s father seems to be able to do nothing but criticize him for not seeking a higher station in life. The family scenes are hauntingly realistic and tear at the heart.
During the film, Kenny attends the Cleaners and Pumpers Convention in Nashville, Tennessee - acres and acres of totally fascinating portable johns and s**t toting equipment. Kenny is like a kid at Disney World. Filming at the convention adds a s**tload of tongue-in-cheek fun to the film.
The climatic scenes of the film take place at the Melbourne Cup which seems to be like the Kentucky Derby on steroids. (Link) Here we see Kenny at his very best and most heartwarming.
The special features on the DVD are almost as entertaining as the film. The viewer is offered insight into the genesis of the feature-length version of Kenny as well as the filmmakers and the people who supported them in the project. Clayton and Shane Jacobson are brothers. Shane plays Kenny in the film, and appropriately, Clayton plays Kenny’s brother. But that isn’t the end of the family connection as Kenny’s fictional father is played by Clayton and Shane’s real father, and Kenny’s fictional son is played by Clayton’s son. You will find that the Jacobson family and friends are just as entertaining and fascinating as Kenny’s fictional family and friends.
I haven’t experienced good, warm laughter in a long time watching a film. Kenny is overflowing with tons of heartfelt humor. It is a real pick-me-up and a serious tribute to the everyday working man who is not acknowledged nearly enough in this success-centered world or ours.
October 2, 2008