A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mental is a dark comedy that focuses on a dysfunctional home with five daughters, an unstable mother, a father who's completely removed himself from the scene, and a kooky drifter/nanny who tries to fix both the family and herself. Several storylines feature mental illness, and it's not quite clear whether the nanny is completely sane. There's a good deal of profanity (including "f--k," "s--t," and more), and several moments when the main character uses violence or threats to make her point. One scene includes naked teens fooling around on a water slide (breasts and bottom are briefly glimpsed), and there are other scenes with suggestive material. A teen girl marries an older woman.
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What's the story?
With five demanding daughters, a husband who refuses to come home, and the hostile glares of disapproving neighbors, Shirley Moochmore (Rebecca Gibney) has reached the end of her rope, suffering a nervous breakdown in spectacularly musical fashion. After checking her into a MENTAL hospital, Barry Moochmore (Anthony LaPaglia) recruits kooky drifter Shaz (Toni Collette) as nanny to his kids, although it's not certain whether the new caretaker is totally sane in this dark Australian comedy
Is it any good?
This film is unbridled and intense -- and we don't just mean the cinematography. Movies with a bizarrely refreshing point of view are a joy to watch (see Muriel's Wedding, which was also directed by Mental helmer P.J. Hogan), especially when they pack a walloping mix of humor and pathos. In this regard, Mental is a joy.
But delightfully strange as it is, Mental is also very predictable. From the moment Shaz enters the scene, we know, pretty much, that in fixing the family she's suddenly part of, she will, in some way, fix what's broken with herself.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what Mental is trying to say about who's labeled mentally ill vs. who's considered normal. Is Shaz insane or just willing to ignore social conventions?
Why is the Moochmore family so broken? Why does the father refuse to come home? How have his actions damaged his wife and daughters? Which of them, if any, are actually mentally ill?
Who do you think Mental is intended to appeal to? Does it succeed? Do you consider it a dark comedy, a drama, or a mix of both?
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