INTRODUCING THE DWIGHTS

R
Reviews

A shameless star vehicle for Brenda Blethyn, the giddy Introducing the Dwights (formerly known as Clubland) takes not a few frames from such recent imports as The Full Monty, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Driving Lessons and Widows' Peak. While the film is upbeat fun with plenty of sex thrown in for good measure, this Aussie production that warmly embraces Anglo notions of eccentricity runs no deeper than a thin spread of Vegemite.

Yes, there is some attempt at depth in the portrait of Jean (Blethyn), a divorced comedienne who fights for small gigs while working at a canteen by day and maintaining, or trying to maintain, a firm grip on her two sons. Tim (Khan Chittenden) is the handsome older son who is about to leave the nest to live with girlfriend Jill (Emma Booth). The younger Mark is brain-damaged but good-natured and requires special care from Mom.

Like the proverbial clown, Jean is all laughs on the outside but crying inside. The symptoms of her conflict include cruel behavior toward Jill, an inability to let go of Tim, overprotecting Mark, and drinking to excess and occasionally to the point of outburst. But as a performer for mostly working-class and ordinary folk, the bawdy Jean is all gusto, even if some of her lamer jokes fall flat.

Fortunately, as Jean devolves into a nasty wreck, ex-husband John (Frankie J. Holden) comes back into the picture. And as with all films of this genre, all's swell that ends swell.

The film, like the Dwight household, is noisy, lively and filled with country and pop standards. Like Jean's humor, the sex scenes are bold. Unlike the jokes, all performances, especially Blethyn's and Chittenden's, are on target

Introducing the Dwights certainly doesn't push any envelopes, but it will keep filmgoers in their seats to that bittersweet, helluva festive finale.