Not Suitable for Children (2012)
Director: Peter Templeman
Writers: Michael Lucas and Peter Templeman
Starring: Ryan Kwanten, Sarah Snook, Ryan Corr, and Bojana Novakovic

The Plot: Jonah (Ryan Kwanten) is an average 20-something. He parties with his friends every weekend, has a complicated relationship with his on/off girlfriend, and is very sexually active. His life is turned upside down, however, when in the process of having a one-night-stand with a random girl at one of his parties, she notices he has a lump on his testicles. Very quickly, Jonah discovers that the lump is a tumor and he does indeed have testicular cancer. The doctors want to immediately schedule surgery to remove one of his testes, but when they take a sample of his sperm, it indicates that his ejaculate will not endure the freezing process needed to sustain his DNA. So, Jonah, who has never thought much about having kids, finds himself in a rush to spread his seed. Jonah has only one month to find a woman who will have a child with him, and with his reputation, that is going to prove to be quite difficult.

The Review
Although I haven’t kept up with it regularly over the years, I was a pretty big fan of the first two seasons of True Blood. What I generally liked about the show was that it delivered familiar genre archetypes in a different enough way that it continually felt fresh. While the show did frequently delve into some rather embarrassing melodrama, overall the show was so entertaining that it became a part of my regular routine over the first two years of its running. Compiling a crafty story along with some truly compelling performances, True Blood certainly earned the reputation that it has. Throughout the years, True Blood has introduced a laundry list of new talent to the world, and many of them are now pressing forward into even bigger ventures. Among these talents is Ryan Kwanten, the hunk of those first few seasons. Carrying a six-pack of abs and boy-next-door-good-looks, the guy was guaranteed to capture some attention. Despite his charming Southern accent on the show, it turns out he is actually a young Australian actor. Not Suitable for Children finds the actor donning his natural accent and taking on a role that lends itself to any twenty-something who spends their nights wondering whether or not they’re wasting their youth. The film acts as a vehicle for both Kwanten and his female castmate Sarah Snook, as these two actors put in performances that should turn the head of any person who gives this quaint drama-comedy a chance.

The first ten minutes of Not Suitable for Children sets an incredibly strong tone for the remainder of the film. With very quick secession, we see a man have his entire life turned upside down. The audience lives vicariously through the Jonah character (again, played by Ryan Kwanten), and it gives us an idea of how completely earth shattering it must be to hear such devastating news. In one scene, Jonah is shown as a bumbling party animal that takes joy in the simple pleasures of life, but in the very next he’s forced to realize how much of his life has been wasted. We see a grown man forced to deal with a level of maturity that he is wholly unprepared for. While sitting in the doctor’s office, the blank facial expression on Jonah as he tries to absorb this situation is in direct opposition to the matter-of-fact immediacy that his doctor displays. The physician treats this revelation as if it is a bandaid that needs only to be quickly pulled off, but Jonah’s face reveals only shock. With the clinical and detached approach of modern medicine, the doctor drops this bombshell on both Jonah as well as the audience. This quick jumble of scenes, which comprises the first ten minutes of the film, shows Jonah floating through this situation with a slack-jawed look of surprise and horror. The audience is forced into a situation that is very similar. The film introduces itself with humor and a party atmosphere, but quickly devolves into quick drama. We are as unprepared for this situation as Jonah is. While this may come across as discombobulating, there is no doubt that the effect was absolutely intentional.

For any of its negatives, Not Suitable For Children captures the paranoia and fear that many twenty-somethings go through. As many of us pass into our thirties, there’s a fear of being the last of our kind. For those of us who did not have children right out of highschool and have continued to play the singles game for more than a little while, there is an understandable fear that lays dormant in our minds. There are many who are content with not having children or simply placing it on the backburner for as long as possible, but for some of us, there’s a feeling of inadequacy within our lives. With every wedding or baby shower that passes, there’s a nagging question, “Have we done enough?” While we try to present ourselves as more than predatory mammals, there’s still something inside many of us that drives us towards the need to procreate. The need to see our genetics prolong is something very innate within the human condition, and what Not Suitable For Children does is amplify these urges by ten. By placing a deadline on the last chance to ever procreate, the urges seem as if they completely consume Jonah. While it seems as if he is being rushed into this situation for all of the wrong reasons, this hard-partying guy is quickly shown to be human and put in a situation that many of us can empathize with. While the beats of the story may at first seem to be rather elementary, there is a potent amount of drama to be found in this tight knit story.

When it comes to picking out negatives, and all films do have them, it probably has to do with the formulaic twists within the plot. There are a few very fairly predictable turns within the story, but hammering on this only seems like nitpicking to me. The movie has its fair share of recognizable elements, but these moments do also take the movie in directions that are very unexpected. For every predictable moment, there comes a slight kink in the chain that creates a unique perspective within the story. Without being too overtly saccharine, the movie works because of how incredibly touching it becomes. If one were expecting a pure comedy from this film, then chances are they might not pick up on what the film is trying to say, but when approached with an open mind, Not Suitable for Children is surprisingly heart warming. Moreso than the majority of audience members are likely to expect. While it has the appearance of being a silly comedy that might be as shallow as Jonah is initially shown to be, there is a very real and very tangible element within the film that makes it something much more than just a goof.

The Conclusion
With very strong performances from the main cast, as well as a tinge of varied humor that runs throughout the film, Not Suitable for Children is a very strong offering. Not all viewers will react the same way, but if the audience is receptive, they’re bound to find something to relate to within the film. Not Suitable for Children receives a four out of five.