Before our friends, Peter and Dawn, returned to Australia, we asked them for some movie recommendations. The first one they mentioned was Kenny, about a guy who runs a porta-potty (Australians call them portaloos) business named Splash Down. “A great comedy,” they said, “real Australian humor,” and they started laughing just remembering the film.
Kenny takes his job seriously, and as he points out, if he didn’t the rest of us would be in deep, well, deep in the product he specialized in collecting and carting away. “I don’t know what all the fuss is about,” Kenny says, “it’s 80% water and we’ve got chemicals to take care of the remaining 20.” At festivals he puts in long hours, cleaning the toilets, fishing out rings that were mistakenly dropped, and dealing with plugged and overflowing facilities. “There’s another classic example,” Kenny says wearily, “of someone having a two inch arsehole and us having installed only one inch piping.”
Kenny is hardly a great film, but it succeeds by being funny and believable. Filmed as a mock documentary, Kenny introduces us to his work, his family, and to the grand convention of waste management, The International Pumper & Cleaner Expo in Nashville, TN—which Kenny affectionately refers to as “Poo HQ.”
I don’t remember when I’ve laughed so hard at a film, only to be surprised when the second half turns into a poignant story of broken human beings trying to make their way through a broken world amidst sadly broken relationships. Kenny is the story of a likable and decent worker who does a job well, only to be despised by the people whom he serves—if they bother to notice him at all. “I’d love to be able to say ‘I plumb toilets’ and have someone say, ‘Now that is something I’ve always wanted to do.’” G. K. Chesterton published a Father Brown mystery where, if I remember correctly, the murderer had initially escaped noticed because he was dressed a postman so nobody noticed him as he walked away from the crime down a busy street. I wonder how many other people remain invisible to me?
[Kenny is rated PG-13.]