Mental health is a serious
label in modern society but writer P.J. Hogan successfully manages to
de-stigmatise the label in his latest comedy, Mental starring
Toni Collette, Liev Schreiber, Anthony LaPaglia and an overweight
Rebecca Gibney who looks totally different than her character in
Packed to the Rafters. Directed by P.J. Hogan who also directed the
iconic Muriel's Wedding, Mental is a similar comedy with its
Australian quirkiness and good girl bad girl characters. It's a
well-written comedy with some great "aussie" characters about being
normal, love, life and death.
The story is set in a
fictional suburb of Queensland and focuses on the chaotic lives of the
Moochmore family, more specifically their five teenage girls who all
believe that they have some sort of mental illness. To compound their
situation, their mother Shirley has "another" nervous breakdown which
results in her singing songs from the Sound of Music to make her
life seem more colourful than it really is. With their mother sent off
to "Wollongong" which is a cover for a mental institution, their wayward
and womanising father (Anthony LaPaglia) who is also campaigning to
become Mayor again hires a hitchhiker from the street called Shaz (Toni
Collette) to look after his children.
It seems that mental
attracts mental and Shaz immediately bonds with the girls as she teaches
them that normal does not exist in the real-world which results in their
self-esteems to increase and for them not to care what others think as
everyone has their own issues. However Shaz has her own dark secrets and
unbeknown to the family, she lost a daughter to suicide many years ago
and her ex-husband Trevor Blundell a shark hunter (Liev Schreiber) may
have been responsible. Eldest daughter Coral (Lily Sullivan) introduces
the film well when she recounts the time she tried to commit suicide by
jumping off their balcony, only to land on her father's car which
knocked him out. It's classic P.J. Hogan humour.
Although Mental does not
quite get to the heights of Muriel's Wedding, it is still a feel good
Australian comedy that is quite cleverly scripted and helps remove the
stigma from mental illness. There are some brilliant standout
performances in the movie, especially by Gibney as Shirley Moochmore,
Lily Sullivan as Coral Sullivan who plays the oldest daughter of family
and blossoms into her own character thanks to the exploits of Shaz.
Lastly we have Toni Collette who plays a powerful female character that
does not take "what... or no" from anyone.
Commendations should also
be made to Liev Schreiber, an American who manages to perfect the
Australian accent and Deborah Mailman (The Sapphires) who plays an
indigenous lesbian who has some great scenes in the film, especially
with the neurotic neighbour and her daughter. With that said, all the
characters in Mental, especially the girls of the Moochmore family are
great characters which force you to smile whenever they are on, for they
generally have something strange to say or do. Like Michelle Moochmore (Malorie
O'Neill), one of the sisters who believes aliens are stalking her for
the mental man. Priceless!
Video Audio & Special
Video quality is
exceptional on Blu-ray as are the audio tracks, thanks to the DTS HD 5.1
track. The video quality is crystal clear in this movie, especially the
colours that are vibrant and quite colourful. Special Features are a
little limited with just cast & crew interviews.
Nonetheless Mental is a fun
movie from start to finish!