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Brandon Judell

Introducing the Dwights: True Love vs. Killer Mom


"Introducing the Dwights"
Director: Cherie Nowlan
Producer: Rosemary Blight
Writer: Keith Thompson
Script Supervisor: Kristin Voumard
Location Manager: Annelies Norland
Cast: Brenda Blethyn, Khan Chittenden, Emma Booth, Richard Wilson, Frankie J. Holden, Rebecca Gibney,
Philip Quast, Russell Dykstra, Katie Wall
Reviewed by Brandon Judell, July 10, 2007.

Brenda Blethyn as Jean and Khan Chittenden as Tim in director Cherie Nowlan’s" Introducing the Dwights," a Warner Independent Pictures release. Photo by Daniel Smith © 2007 Goalpost Film Ltd.

There are films about monstrously overbearing moms, often played by Shelley Winters (e.g. "Patch of Blue"; "Next Stop Greenwich Village"; "Bloody Mama"), and there are those "heartwarming" coming-of-age/losing-one's-virginity cinematic treats ("Summer of '42"; "Raising Victor Vargas"; "Roger Dodger").

Australia's entry into this field, ''Introducing the Dwights," consolidates the best elements of both genres to create a whacky, touching, sexy, biting comedy.

First of all, center stage, there's divorced Jean (Brenda Blethyn), a would-be top-notch comedienne who's saddled with two grown boys: one mentally disabled, the other a virgin. Jean, who works days as a cook in some sort of factory kitchen, at night peddles her long-in-the-tooth act at local nightspots. Dreaming of making it big as she believes she would have in England if she hadn't married her lads' dad and moved Down Under, this gal's not a very happy camper.

As for eldest son, Mark (Richard Wilson), he's not as mentally challenged as Mom would like to imagine. Blinded by her own sense of reality, Jean treats him as if he were a five-year and not as a young man who's watches porn tapes on the sly and flirts with the ladies at his special-ed activity center.

Then there's the stunning yet highly insecure Tim (Khan Chittenden). He serves as his mother's chauffeur when not operating his own moving van. In reality, a modeling career would be more justified.

Brenda Blethyn as Jean, Philip Quast as Ronnie Stubbs and Richard Wilson as Mark in "Introducing the Dwights." Photo by Daniel Smith © 2007 Goalpost Film Ltd.

Well, one day Tom winds up moving the belongings of Jill (Emma Booth), a really pretty Renee Zellweger type, and the two immediately fall into relationship mode. There are several obstacles though to their thick, raw, sensual love. Tom keeps running away every time a horny Jill unzips him. And after she finally gets what she's after, she then has contend with Monster Mom, who doesn't want to let any of her chicks scoot from her nest.

The nerve of her offspring! Why aren't they asking, "Whom will Jean get to chauffeur her around to her gigs? Whom will Jean be able to scold when she's in a huff? And most important, who will be there to cajole poor ol' Jean when she's drinking her gin and smoking her fags and reminiscing about her dreams and she's alone? No one. This is self-love intertwined with self-hatred.

Which reminds me there is a saying about the perfect mother, one credited to a Tenneva Jordan: "A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie." Jean is clearly the sort who would solve the problem by eating all four slices herself.

So can true love triumph here?

While the results are predictable, the acting isn't. The entire cast is so distinguished, a screenplay that might seem conventional in less able hands becomes a triumph here.

Blethyn especially adds layers upon layers on Jean, and then unravels them. It's as if she tackling the role of Martha in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and not a mum in a teen-hormones epic. Yes, just compare Blethyn's tour de force to Jane Fonda's anemic turn in "Monster-in-Law" and you'll see the difference between art and shtick.

As for Chittenden and Booth, Crow and Kidman better start making a little room for their Aussie kinsmen. These two are on a roll.


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