The increasingly popular ‘mockumentary’ approach to filmmaking has supplied us with numerous figures of fun over the past years. Convention, however, seems to dictate that the characters who populate these films must receive some sort of emotional tar-and-feathering during the proceedings, as witnessed in recent offerings by Christopher Guest and the entire sitcom output of Ricky Gervais.
It’s something of a coup, then, that ‘Kenny’– an unexpectedly charming and bitingly funny mock doc concerning the, ahem, ins and outs of a rotund, lisping portable-toilet attendant – rejects the schadenfreude so beloved of the genre in favour of fashioning a downright adorable little film. A smash hit in its native Australia, the film follows Kenny and his ‘Splashdown’ crew to numerous music festivals and sporting events. In recognition of all his good work for the company, he is sent off to the Pumper and Cleaner Expo in Nashville, Tennessee where he to strikes up a bond with a lonely air hostess. Full of deft character turns (most notably Shane Jacobson’s mesmerising, total-immersion tour de force in the title role) and some delightfully outré (though never crude) comic touches in the script, ‘Kenny’ has nothing but respect for its central character, and it’s all the better for it. Though its finely-textured humour will never have you in fits of apoplexy, the continual torrent of quality one-liners will keep you smiling from ear to ear. The realist aesthetic, too, is never undermined by plot contrivance, favouring an ambling, shaggy-dog approach to Kenny’s daily routine which in turn helps to keep the focus (as the curt title would suggest) on the man and his mucky mission.