Mom's a ‘standup' gal—not necessarily in a good way

Introducing The Dwights

on July 06, 2007 by Chad Greene
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When his new girlfriend Jill (Emma Booth) asks about his parents, Tim (Khan Chittenden) nervously reveals—real dread evident in his voice—the shameful secret: “They're entertainers.”

Cut to: shots of papa John (Frankie J. Holden), a one-hit wonder country crooner, firing an index-finger revolver at the closed-circuit camera over the entrance of the grocery store where he works as a security guard, and of mama Jean (Brenda Blethyn, a raucous revelation), a frustrated standup comedian who fears “the parade has passed her by,” making funny facsimiles of penises and testicles with the sausages and eggs on the flat grill at her cafeteria day job.

When Jill follows up with an inquiry into the quality of Jean's cooking, Tim's response could just as easily sum up her standup sets in Sydney nightclubs. “She's terrible,” he says, “but she tries.”

A charming coming-of-age comedy from Down Under that pits young love against old disappointments, Introducing the Dwights opens with Jean belting out “Mannish Boy” to the accompaniment of her clock radio—ironic, since she's in no hurry to have the 20-year-old Tim leave the nest. The owner/operator of what the Aussies refer to a “taxi truck,” he spends his days moving people from place to place and his evenings moving Mom from gig to gig. He also helps Jean care for his mentally challenged brother (Richard Wilson).

Inexperienced with women, Tim nevertheless manages to strike up a romance with blonde beauty Jill after helping her move. But bringing a girlfriend home to meet mom can be nerve-wracking—especially if the mother in question is an acerbic comic who, by her own admission, “never knows where to draw the line.”

Jean and Jill, needless to say, don't exactly hit it off, and the true test of this hitherto inarticulate “Mannish Boy” lies in sensitively and subtly addressing the insecurities that ultimately lead both to state, “It's me or it's her.” Distributor: Warner Independent
Cast: Brenda Blethyn, Khan Chittenden, Emma Booth, Richard Wilson, Frankie J. Holden, Philip Quast and Katie Wall
Director: Cherie Nowlan
Screenwriter: Keith Thompson
Producer: Rosemary Blight
Genre: Comedy
Rating: R for sexual content and language
Running time: 109 min.
Release date: July 4, 2007 NY/LA, July exp
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