Review: Mental (15) ***

Mental
Mental
John Lithgow and Will Ferrell get festive in Daddys Home 2.

Cinema: Daddy’s coming home again for Christmas with an all star cast... you better watch out

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As titles go, Mental is a fair summation of PJ Hogan’s scattershot comedy of appalling manners, which reunites the Australian writer-director with his Muriel’s Wedding leading lady, Toni Collette.

In that picture, his beleaguered heroine was obsessed with the songs of ABBA.

Here, Hogan introduces a mother who retreats into the fantasy world of her favourite Rodgers & Hammerstein show: The Sound Of Music.

Barry Moochmore (Anthony LaPaglia) is the mayor of the close-knit town of Dolphin Heads and he is poised to hit the campaign trail to secure re-election.

So when his long-suffering wife Shirley (Rebecca Gibney) suffers a very public breakdown, Barry hastily packs her off to a mental health facility.

Facing the prospect of raising five teenagers he barely knows, Barry hires ballsy drifter Shaz (Collette) to whip the children into shape.

Mental paints a vivid portrait of a dysfunctional family in crisis.

Hogan’s script occasionally missteps. However, the underlying message about embracing foibles should be cherished amid the giggles.

To quote Shaz: ‘There’s no such thing as normal – it’s just different shades of mental.’