Kenny Clayton Jacobson

Kenny Clayton Jacobson
Kenny is an Australian "plumber” who provides (hauls, cleans and flushes) portable johns for car rallies and rock festivals. He’s a generous teddy bear of a guy and this charming mockumentary is his story.

Co-writer Shane Jacobson is so disarmingly friendly as Kenny that it allows audiences to ease into the shitty subject matter. This is key because the first 20 minutes of the film can be a little hard to take (if the walkouts at my preview press screening are any sign). True, Kenny’s nice guy persona gets a little unbelievable in the face of his grouchy dad, cranky ex-wife and the drunken yahoos who torch his plastic portable lavatories but Jacobson’s performance is so assured that it puts us at ease. The jerky, handheld video also creates needed distance from the scatological subject matter while allowing Kenny to directly communicate his inner feelings to us, à la The Trailer Park Boys.

Kenny started as a popular short film that grew into a hit Down Under, where it’s already a triple-DVD. The film’s strength lies in the writing, which takes Kenny to a "Pumper and Cleaner” convention in Nashville — the film’s pivotal section. There, he hits it off with a stewardess (Eve von Bibra) and lands a big sale for his Melbourne company, but then has to rush home to care for his ailing (real-life) father.

Despite the unfamiliar accent (subtitles are offered — and needed), Kenny’s dialogue shines. "There’s a smell here that’s gonna outlast religion,” he says from inside a tank of shit he’s cleaning. "Dad’s emotional bank account had two cents in it,” he observes later.

Fine supporting performances and real-life events such as the Melbourne Cup uphold the overall illusion. Kenny is one funny film that would make Christopher Guest proud. (Films We Like)