FORGET Mary Poppins and her endless bag of tricks, Shaz the foul-mouthed Tassie chick is the new nanny in town.
The knife wielding, crass Aussie hitchhiker is brought into the Moochmore household at Dolphin Heads to watch over the five girls, who are all self-confessed "mental cases".
The girls have been left to their own devices after their mother Shirley is "sent to Woolongong for a holiday" which is code for sent to the mental hospital.
Anthony LaPaglia plays the absent politician father Barry, who hires the first woman who crosses his path to look after his daughters.
Shaz embraces the role, declaring war on Dolphin Heads' establishment, who've made life miserable for Shirley and her rowdy daughters, those compulsive conformists who turn out to be the real psychos.
Mental has the ideal mix of life messages and humour.
It is a movie of extremes with the most fuzzy messages of meaning to the most exuberant and crass Aussie humour.
While the film pokes fun at the issues of race, mental illness, it all fits in the context of the story.
Toni Collette goes broke in her role as Shaz, adding an Aussie twist to her United States of Tara character.
But the psychology book fanatic acts as the voice of reason for the Moochmore girls and their parents, helping them realise their strange behaviour is not a bad thing, nor is it a mental illness.
She promotes the themes of individuality, self acceptance and family togetherness.
Mental is a great example of how the Australian film industry has developed.
The Moochmore girls are all played by Australian actresses, who were unknowns for the most part before the film.
They deliver convincing performances and tackle the tough issues in the film with much maturity.
Stars: Toni Collette, Liev Schreiber, Anthony LaPaglia, Lily Sullivan and Rebecca Gibney
Director: PJ Hogan
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