With a handful of big-budget studio flicks being released this weekend, independent gems like Mental run the risk of getting lost in the fray, but if you’re in one of the select cities Mental is playing (NYC, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Phoenix, San Diego, Jacksonville, New Haven, Richmond, Denver, Seattle), you’d be crazy to miss out on this uproarious and heartfelt comedy from colorful director P.J. Hogan.
Set in the picturesque town of Dolphin’s Head on the Gold Coast of Australia, Mental tells the story of the hilariously dysfunctional Moochmore family, headed by politician and absentee father Barry (Anthony LaPaglia) and his eccentric but loving wife, Shirley (Rebecca Gibney). With Barry basically out of the picture, Shirley raises their five teenage daughters on her own, which sends her over the edge and straight to the loony bin.
Now Barry is saddled with his daughters for the first time. Panicked, he makes the hasty decision to pick up an eccentric hitchhiker named Shaz (Toni Collette) to nanny his brood. Unknowingly, he picks up a lot more than he bargained for with Shaz, who embarks on a mission to enlighten the Moochmore women of the dangers of conformity, which are omnipresent in their suburban town, all while grappling with her own past and personal demons.
All too often in our society, those we deem “different” are ostracized and are made to feel less than. Mental shows the humorous side to the different quirks that we all exhibit; further showcasing that everyone is a bit mental in their own way. After all, “normalcy” is subjective, yet objectively boring.
Fans of Toni Collette will love this movie, which reunites her with P.J. Hogan for the first time since her debut in Muriel’s Wedding in 1999. If you’re a fan of Collette’s award-winning TV show United States of Tara, you’ll relish Mental all the more.
Strong performances from Liev Schreiber, LaPaglia, Gibney, and the newcomers playing the Moochmore girls will have you laughing like a lunatic.
Mental hits select theaters on March 29, 2013. Watch an exclusive clip below.