If only Kenny were a documentary instead of a mockumentary—then it would be a truly astounding film. Even as is, though, this hit Australian comedy about an eponymous Melbourne porta-potty (or porta-loo) installer has its share of authentic, startling moments, owing mostly to its low budget, which forces filmmakers Clayton and Shane Jacobson to go on-location for many of their pivotal scenes.
It is at these real-life events—the St. Kilda Festival and, most memorably, the Melbourne Cup—that Kenny (well played by Shane) shines brightest as a humanized, but not over-sentimentalized, character. The Jacobsons posit him as a salt-of-the-earth Aussie: someone who revels in his job as a piss ’n’ poop manager, who is built tough to endure it, but whose unflaggingly pleasant, gregarious demeanour does not forbid endearing displays of exasperation. Kenny is a policeman and a paramedic; the job is thankless, and he is often treated like a pariah, but his quiet perseverance is his retribution. Kenny brings morality to the abject.
There are parts of Kenny—such as when he goes to Nashville for a porta-potty trade show and has a brief, chaste romance with a stewardess—that adhere to narrative convention, and are not the better for it. Sometimes the Jacobsons go overboard: one feels Kenny gets socially rejected a few too many times, and the last scene is irredeemably crass. It’s an unfitting end, really, to a film that, unlike so many others of its ilk, tries its utmost to steer clear of the shit.
Kenny is now playing at the Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond St. W.) and Canada Square (2190 Yonge St.).