Michael and I both think you should see Kenny

Posted on August 8, 2008


OK, I was lazy and didn’t tell you about the Traverse City Film Festival because I figured everybody around here already knew about it and besides it’s something you do in Traverse City, not in Torch Lake Township, and a long time ago I decided I had all I could do just to write about the Township.  Well, that and Antrim County and daytrips around northern Michigan that you can make from the Township.  I digress. 

I went to TCFF with my son, the eccenric film buff.  (That particular apple didn’t fall far from the tree.)  At my invitation, he chose the movies we would see, which is how I happened to be at The Last Winter (a horror film set in the Arctic) and at Kenny – the funniest movie I’ve seen in a long time.  It is funny because it has wit and a good heart.  It is funny because it tells the truth without malice.  It is funny because it is well crafted.  Having said all that, I concede that you might not think it is funny, but I believe you will.  Trust me on this. 

I know, I know – the last time I recommended a movie to everyone it was the poetic Korean film Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring Again – a delicate, haunting piece about enlightenment set in a Buddhist monastery floating on a remote lake.  There is more than one side to me.  The side that wants funny loved Kenny – an Australian film about a guy who manages a port-a-potty business. I knew you’d say that. It’s not like that. It’s – well, it’s all the things I told you in the preceding paragraph. Kenny is just a matter-of-fact guy who understands why people are not impressed by his job, and who respects himself anyway. He’s a realist. He’s a good manager. He’s a truly decent human being. Go see for yourself. Kenny is playing at the beautifully restored State Theatre in Traverse City beginning today and running through August 14. 

Michael Moore thinks you should see Kenny, too. Here is an excerpt from his weekly email to TCFF friends and volunteers:

Nobody knows about this movie — except everybody in Australia. There it has become one of the highest grossing comedies ever. But as far as playing outside of Australia, well, the Canadians had it briefly — and that’s about it for North America.

How did I hear about it? Bill Weeks, who is organizing the plumbing and electricity and set up of my film production here, told me I should show this movie, which he saw while he was on vacation in Australia. He said it was the funniest damn thing he’s ever seen . . .

Yes, “Kenny” is the true story of a man who helps run a port-a-potty company. But lest you think this is a movie of toilet humor, gross-out jokes, or bad taste, think again. “Kenny” is a genius work of comic art that relies solely on being smart. There is a not a single shot of poop in this picture. You never see what’s inside the toilets that Kenny cleans — he leaves it entirely up to your imagination (which is far worse and far funnier!).

If this movie had been made in Hollywood, it would have been nonstop bathroom humor and stuff that makes 13-year-old boys jump for joy. “Kenny” never resorts to that. This is a movie for people with a brain, for adults ready for 90 minutes of pure laughter. This is not a “boy movie” — women should not stay away because the funniest moments come at the expense of my gender (Kenny explains at one point why men can handle any odor in the bathroom and stay in there till we finish “War and Peace,” while women are often rendered incapacitated on impact when they simply open the bathroom door).

“Kenny” is a film that deals with the class struggle, about what life is like for the people who clean up after us. They are often invisible, and this film truly shines when it comes to sticking up for the little guy.

Halfway through the film, Kenny is asked to go to America for a huge port-a-potty convention. I won’t spoil it for you, but the look of wonderment on Kenny’s face as he views the American version of the outdoor head is like manna from heaven.

At one point in the film, Kenny crawls out of a septic tank and declares, “There’s a smell in there that will outlast religion.” That’s one of the many lines you’ll be quoting to your friends all week long after you see “Kenny.” Come on down to the State beginning today. And bring your friends who need a good laugh. You will not regret this!