Kenny Smyth (Shane Jacobson) delivers and maintains portable toilets at public events. Going about his job armed with only his dignity and an unshakably upbeat disposition, hes a guy that not a lot of people take the time to get to know. Their loss.
Just when you thought the mockumentary was exhausted, along come the Jacobson brothers. Kenny might not be as outrageously hilarious as Borat or boast the starry ensemble of For Your Consideration, but it’s far superior to the latter and approaching the former in quality.
There’s more to this than just a cracking sense of humour and a slew of Aussie colloquialisms (“Mate, I’ve got a smell down here that’s gonna outlast religion”); there’s depth and simple, endearing heart in this rough-diamond story.
The Jacobson siblings made a very wise choice in creating a character with what is, for all intents and purposes, a funny trade - who’s not going to laugh at toilet humour the calibre of, “Here’s a classic example of someone having a two-inch arsehole, and
us having only installed one-inch piping”? But their genius lies in their restraint. Shying away from the obvious gags, they instead mould loo-supremo Kenny into a believable human being with all-too familiar problems; the rather lonely existence beneath his optimistic, dignified outlook will have you begging for a warm Hollywood denouement, but the script is sufficiently convincing
that you don’t necessarily expect one.
In front of the camera, Shane Jacobson is astonishingly comfortable in the title character. At the beginning, you wonder if Kenny’s speech impediment is for a gag later on; by the end, you’re second-guessing that maybe it’s not an affectation at all. It’s also noteworthy as a family affair - three generations of Jacobsons appear on screen; their father Ron is a supporting standout as Kenny’s germ-freak curmudgeon of a dad.
It’d be easy to say that the fly-on-the-wall style covers a multitude of sins and budgetary shortfalls, but that doesn’t really apply here - again because of wise choices. The brothers were given free and complete access to their friend’s company (it really is named Splashdown) for the two years of production, so there’s enough action at big events to place Kenny and his team in a reality we recognise.
The pacing also is fantastic; each scene adds colour to what eventually builds, under the sewage gags, into a complex sketch of an inherently hilarious and very loveable character.
A triumph both as comedy and character study, Kenny is charming, disarming and funny as hell; the perfect antidote to any disappointing summer blockbuster.