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.’