Film Review – Not Suitable For Children

Now Suitable For Children (MA)

Directed by: Peter Templeman

Starring: Ryan Kwanten, Sarah Snook, Bojana Novakovic

Two stars

Review by: Julian Wright

Receiving jarring news that you have cancer, whether treatable or terminal, is enough to put anyone’s head in a spin. With your time potentially cut shorter than you might have thought, you may fret over the things you always wanted to do but never did. If ever there is a silver lining, according to the movies, it is that such news can give you that kick up the bum to start making your way down your bucket list a bit faster.

Such is Jonah’s plight in writer/director Peter Templeman’s feature film directorial debut Not Suitable For Children. Although, it is not death that Jonah faces, rather it is not being able to father children. Well, in three week’s time. Jonah (Ryan Kwanten) is a 20-something care free party animal that, along with his room mates in their West Sydney sharehouse, charge their mates to attend their elaborate house parties. During a fling with a one night stand , he discovers a lump on his testicle. A doctor visit later, he is told it is cancerous, the testicle must be removed and chemotherapy begun immediately. The side-effect is permanent infertility.

Jonah makes the appointment for the procedure to take place three weeks away to give him time to go back through his black book of relationships and hook ups to find the best candidate to father his child before his sperm is no good. What a catch! After not having any success (what a surprise), his friend Stevie (Sarah Snook) offers her oven to bake the bun in and the two go into an agreement that could change everything.

While this film has the best intentions at heart, it is hard to get on board when the main character actively and endlessly pursues something that he doesn’t even really want and has no business having. This irrational and irresponsible man is simply trying to beat a clock and is not suitable for children. It’s right there in the title!

It wouldn’t be too much of a leap to believe this man must come to terms with having a baby sooner than planned if he actually had planned to have any at all at some point, but he clearly didn’t. Jonah just wants what he can’t have. Even when he borrows his sister’s kids to try to lure a potential incubator for his child, there is no connection there. He doesn’t even know how to take care of children. No parental instincts kick in.

This unagreeable story is made watchable only by the miraculously appealing performances of the cast. Their characters make the dumbest decisions but, by golly, they are a watchable lot up there on the screen. Kwanten somehow oozes appeal despite his character’s misgivings. He shows a soft, vulnerable side and doesn’t come off as a complete write-off as a human being. Now if he can achieve that, then he is destined for great things. But Snook threatens to overshadow with her natural, Emma Stone-like charm.

Templeman hasn’t done anything wrong per se with his directorial choices (this  film is competently made) except failing to bridge that gap that makes us believe Jonah would go to such lengths to achieve what he sets out to do. Unfortunately, it is a fatal flaw. Fingers crossed Templeman’s next film is more suitable for audiences.

3 Responses to “Film Review – Not Suitable For Children”

  1. I haven’t seen this film but my initial and immediate thoughts on hearing the premise is the simple question, “why doesn’t he simply have his sperm frozen until the appropriate time in his future should that ever occur?”. Am I missing something? I’m pretty sure they can freeze that stuff you know. Is this option broached at all in the film?

    • Thanks for the post Geoff. It is addressed in the film, sorry if my review has caused confusion. The character does give that a shot but when the sperm is defrosted, it does not survive.

      • Oh well at least it is good to know they covered my (and probably many other peoples) concern. I’ve no experience with frozen sperm but do so with frozen embryos. I think all our IVF frozen embryos thawed out OK but that isn’t always the case. Considering sperm is so much more readily available and there are millions of them I still find it difficult to believe it isn’t a viable alternative but maybe if I go see the film I will be better informed. Thanks for the review and quick response to my comment.

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