Not Suitable for Children
Movie Review & Comparison
By Jeffrey Kieviet
Life After the Death of True Blood
It’s a truly guilty pleasure, but I’m a pretty big fan of the HBO TV show True Blood; a “trubie” if you will. For those of you who haven’t seen it, True Blood is about true love and the hardships of southern living in ‘Murica set against a beautiful backdrop of vampire porn. Violence, blood, & boobs are aplenty in this modern day Romero & Juliet. Get it, Romero? Like Night of the Living Dead? Anyway, the show is setting up to end its run after the next season, which is probably a good idea considering last year they decided to kill everybody and make zombie-vampires infected with Hepatitis V (for “Vampire”; this show is full of wit & creativity) in order to tie all the story lines together. Of the many interesting & not-yet-dead (or undead, in the case of the numerous vampires) characters of True Blood (including werewolves, fairies, shape-shifters, witches, were-panthers, ghosts, demons, demigods, as well as a slew of hybrids) are the main heroin Sookie Stackhouse (played by The Piano‘s Anna Paquin) and her brother, Jason (Ryan Kwanten, the guy who starred in that ventriloquist dummy horror movie where the lady hollowed out her husband and used him as a puppet [Dead Silence]).
While scrolling the endless libraries of Netflix, under one of their super specific sub-sub-subgenres (like quirky independent comedies featuring immature adults), brother & sister Stackhouse stood side by side in an indy-rom-com-dramedy double feature picture show. Straight A’s is a quirky independent comedy featuring immature adults such as the rugged alcoholic (Ryan Phillipe) who returns home to set things straight with his sister-in-law (Paquin) & her husband who is his brother (Luke Wilson) who, in turn, is off at a business meeting for the week debating leaving aforementioned wife. Also, the married couple’s kids are having a quirky tough time of things since their mom is so uptight & their dad is never home, so Uncle Ryan Phillipe gets to stir up the pot by swearing at school principals and riding around on horses like the classic cowboy he sub-sub-subtly is supposed to embody. On the other hand, Not Suitable for Children follows a rugged partier (Kwanten) who is on the verge of turning his house into a nonstop party hub when he discovers he’s got nut cancer (& other complications) that will render him sterile in a few weeks, so he decides to father a kid as quickly as possible. Sounds like a goofy late-night raunchy comedy (another needless sub-sub-subgenre [although is their any raunchy comedy that could not also be classified as goofy or intended for late-night viewing?]), but in trying to find a legitimate solution to fathering a child when In Vitro isn’t possible and not knowing any woman who want to mother a child with some random party-guy proves to be a quirky independent comedy… with heart. And immature adults.
I was honestly expecting these movies to be very similar, with how specifically they were sectioned off, the pattern of new indy-flicks online, the irresponsible protagonists, they both deal with kids to an extent, but while Sookie’s standard & clichéd romantic comedy about a husband & wife and the estranged brother who pushes them together/brings them apart, Jason’s movie does everything in its power to avoid falling into a romantic comedy. Ignoring the southern simpleton he knows so well from True Blood‘s Louisiana, this film takes place in Kwanten’s native Australia, a country known for monstrous spiders, man-eating dingos, & boxing kangaroos. Or is that us? Screw it, I’m giving it to us. You can’t take boxing kangaroos from ‘Merica. Anyway, he’s an Australian simpleton so he really gets to stretch his acting chops, and he sets out meeting all these women and doctors and ex-girlfriends and one-night-stands and any womb he can get his hands on, all the while treating the exchange of fluids thing as a business deal. They both get a kid they can share out of it! It’s like asking your old bio-chem lab partner if they want to co-sign a lease on a car with you, only the car is a baby. The movie sets up every romantic comedy trap in the book and refuses to play into it… until, well, I don’t want to spoil it, but even though they sell out at the end, they’ve tried so hard not to that it almost makes it ok.
The main difference between the 2 films is that Straight A‘s relies on it’s star power to draw in an audience (which, fair enough, worked on me) and falls flat because there doesn’t seem to be much effort, planning, or creativity on anyone’s part, like they had a few extra bucks for a phoned-in indy-standard, so they got whichever famous actors were in Texas at the time and put together a flick in a couple weeks. Meanwhile, Australia gets an idea for a new angle on an old classic (like Mad Max or Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert [Australians are great for post-apocalyptic drag-queen movies made with one camera and handful of quarters]) and only have the brother from the sex-and-dead people show on HBO (which is kind of all the shows HBO seems to be turning out these days). And the girl in the movie kind of looks like an Australian version of Emma Stone, so a little bit of fame by proxy. But it stands on its own merit and brings something original to the string of *Adverb*-*Adjective*-*Verb*-*Noun* indy-rom-coms out there. If you’re looking for something while browsing your Netflix cue, I’d pick Jason Stackhouse over Snookie. Or Sookie. Whoever.
Not Suitable for Children (2012)
Directed by Peter Templeman
Icon Film Distribution
Straight A’s (2013)
Directed by James Cox
True Blood (2008-2014)
Created by Alan Ball
Based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris