Review: Spot the Tweed in Mental

Rebecca Gibney and Anthony LaPaglia, centre, and Deborah Mailman pictured far left in a scene from the movie Mental. Supplied by UPI Media.
Rebecca Gibney and Anthony LaPaglia, centre, and Deborah Mailman pictured far left in a scene from the movie Mental. Supplied by UPI Media.

PJ HOGAN'S latest movie Mental has started showing in selected cinemas around the Tweed.

As backdrop to his story, the director revisited the area where he spent much of his childhood and used the Tweed and surrounding shires to create an atmosphere similar to Muriel's Wedding.

Although Porpoise Spit is replaced by Dolphin Heads, the small coastal town mood is re-created as is the council employment enjoyed by the family's patriarch and the dysfunctional nature of the family.

However, this is where the similarities end and where Muriel's Wedding was funny and entertaining, Mental is strange and surreal.

The movie's intro sees the mother of the family Shirley Moochmore, played by Rebecca Gibney, burst out in a rendition of "the hills are alive with the sound of music" and sets up the movies' surreal feel.

Mum Shirley can't cope with her five daughters' "mental' behaviour and finds solace in food.

A weight problem results and is one of the reasons her husband Barry, Anthony LaPaglia, refuses to spend any time at home and sleeps with almost anything with a pulse.

When Shirley has a mental breakdown in a donut shop, Barry decides to send her to a mental institution described by the family as "mum is in Wollongong on holidays."

Barry finds himself in the, for him, impossible situation of having to look after a family he hardly knows and picks up a hitchhiker to help him out.

This is when Chaz, Toni Collette, enters the stage and although her acting skills are apparent, the movie's script is so far-fetched, even for an actor of her standard, it is difficult to make the character believable.

The subplot she is involved with is right out of left field and although some funny scenes ensue, the overall experience for the audience is one of confusion with the outlandish events which take place.

A redeeming feature for local residents will in all likelihood be playing spot the Tweed and a number of locations can be easily recognised.

Murwillumbah's council chambers are used as are some areas inside the council's offices.

Coolangatta's Marine Pde appears as do a variety of locations in Banora Point and Murwillumbah.

All in all, for lovers of Muriel's Wedding, the movie will create feelings of nostalgia rather than pleasure and disappoint those who hope for a similar level of entertainment.

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