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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Mental [DVD]
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on 17 June 2013
A bit of an odd film - comedey or horror or crime? Not sure which.

However the film does work well and was very enjoyable to watch with some genuinely funny and original moments.

Something a bit different - oh yes - but well worth viewing.
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on 17 April 2015
Very funny film.
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on 24 May 2015
I was laughing from ten seconds in and crying by the end... ab fab film!
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 February 2014
It's a story too weird to be true -- after his wife is committed to a mental hospital, a neglectful politician hires a hitchhiker to care for his kids.

But it actually was true, and it happened to the family of Australian director P. J. Hogan when he was a child. Years later, he sculpted this too-weird-even-for-sitcoms story into a delightfully peculiar, over-the-top comedy with potty humor, musical numbers and the occasional pickled shark. But it has a bittersweet core about loss, disappointment and mental illness.

Sweet Shirley Moochmoore (Rebecca Gibney) is treated badly by everybody -- her cheating, neglectful husband Barry (Anthony Lapaglia), her snobby neighbor Nancy (Kerry Fox), her doll-obsessed sister Doris (Caroline Goodall) and even the girls at a local coffee shop. So she eventually has a nervous breakdown, and ends up in a mental institution.

Barry demands that his five daughters claim she's "on holiday in Wollongong," mainly because he's up for reelection and doesn't want the bad press. But he quickly discovers that they can't run the house themselves -- especially since all five are convinced that they suffer from various mental illnesses. So he hires a random hitchhiker named Shaz (Toni Collette) to look after them, and goes back to ignoring his family.

At first Shaz terrifies the girls, but she quickly converts them to her life philosophy: the "normal" world (especially Australia) is insane, and the "crazy" unconventional people are normal. She teaches the girls to mess with the bullies in their lives, and even encourages teenage Coral (Lily Sullivan) to pursue her first romance. But what does Shaz have to do with a mysterious shark hunter (Liev Schreiber) and what is her real goal?

"Mental" is one of those "heartwarming" comedies that would feel corny if it was just churned out of Hollywood. But since the story comes from someone who actually lived it, it has a very genuine feeling -- especially since it tackles some heavy issues, such as mental illness. Not only does poor Shirley have a nervous breakdown after years of being treated horribly, but one of her daughters suffers from full-blown schizophrenia.

And despite that, it's still uproariously funny. Hogan makes the whole thing just a little too colorful, zany and over-the-top. It's a live-action cartoon. He careens us through the over-the-top antics of Shaz and the girls --they trash their neighbor's all-white house in a really gross way, Shaz beats up the donut girls, and attempt a commando-style infiltration of a shark exhibit. But Hogan never loses sight of the bittersweetness of a messed-up family, and never stops making you want to see things turn out all right.

If there's a complaint, it's that the movie sometimes doesn't seem to draw a distinction between real mental illness and being beaten down by life. Perhaps that's the point, but that's sort of like saying that Crohn's disease isn't too different from being pressured to go on a diet.

Toni Colette is absolutely brilliant as Shaz -- a surly, wild woman with a pitbull and knife in her boot, who never hesitates to kick normalcy in the face. But we get glimpses of a very troubled, sometimes "mental" woman underneath it all, and it leaves you wondering if she wants the Moochmore girls to replace something missing in her own life.

And the rest of the cast is quite good also -- Sullivan, Bethany Whitmore, Chelsea Bennett and Nicole Freeman are simply delightful as the girls, especially Malorie O'Neill's heartbreaking depiction of a schizophrenic child who isn't getting the help she needs. Gibney is heartbreaking as a sweet, gentle woman who has been beaten down by life, and finally gains some strength on her own. And... well, Liev Schrieber is just hilarious when he's being tortured by an acoustic guitar.

"Mental" is one of those rare comedies that can tackle heavy subjects without losing its wacky, wild attitude -- and Toni Colette's Shaz is worth the price of admission alone. Bring us the mechanical man!
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on 8 June 2013
Shirley (Rebecca Gibney) and her family of girls all think they are crazy. They self-diagnose from the Internet. Barry, their absentee father (Anthony LaPaglia), is also the mayor of the town. He decides to solve the issue by having Shirley committed and provides for the girls by putting Shaz (Toni Collette) in charge of them. He picked her up hitch hiking.

Shaz has her own way of doing things and explains that all of Australia is crazy. Her antics have an ulterior motive which we discover late in the film. Shaz has a refreshing brutal honesty to her approach.

The movie is a bit long. The first hour is zany and will have you laughing out loud. The film then shifts into a more serious mode, imitating a dark comedy up to the heart warming ending that brings it home from the opening. Good one P.J. Hogan.

The film is a must for quirky indie lovers.

Parental Guide: F-bomb, groping, brief nudity (Lily Sullivan, Sam Clark-rear)
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 June 2013
Excellent hilarious take on the Mary Poppins theme, a bit crude and politically incorrect at times but all the funnier for it. It should be watched by anyone who thinks they're strange or doesn't fit in with the accepted idea of what it is to be "normal". Worth watching alone for the side splitting end scene. Toni Collette is probably the best actress to come out of Australia for decades.
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on 6 May 2017
This is an excellent film well worth the watch.
Toni Collette is brilliant and the 5 girls are a quirky wonderful bunch.
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on 5 April 2013
Mental is both extremely funny and a life affirming story about coping with the stresses that come from life and the inside of your head. Toni Collette puts in an amazing performance as a very twsited modern Mary Poppins.
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on 24 January 2015
Great Movie!!
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on 7 March 2013
This is such a scream, Deborah Mailman sing "My Boomerang Won't Come back" is a highlight of this hilarious comedy.
It has a great story line, and Toni Collette is at her brilliant best!
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