Genre: Dramatic Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 45 min.
Release Date: July 4th, 2007 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Cherie Nowlan Actors: Brenda Blethyn, Khan Chittenden, Richard Wilson, Emma Booth, Russell Dykstra, Rebecca Gibney, Katie Wall, Philip Quast, Tracie Sammut
ntroducing the Dwights” is a convoluted catastrophe of randomly abnormal characters and painfully overdramatic events so horribly passed into the bowels of abhorrence that audiences can only pray not to meet its kind again in the next century. With no likeable characters, no consequential story, and distressingly overbearing acting, “Introducing the Dwights” gallops into the lead as the worst film of the year. The only redeeming factor in this disaster of a picture is Mark, played by Richard Wilson, who is either a very talented mentally deficient actor portraying a mentally deficient character, or a very talented mentally stable actor portraying a mentally deficient character. But since the rest of the film is so blanketed with thick sheets of dullness, it doesn’t really matter.
Jean (Brenda Blethyn) is an uncontrollably attention-grubbing comedienne who hopes to further her career despite having zero talent. Tim (Khan Chittenden), her son, battles emotionally with the difficulties of managing a relationship with his newfound girlfriend Jill (Emma Booth), and the nagging jealousy of his mother, who is terrified that her family lifestyle might fall apart. Mark (Richard Wilson) is Tim’s developmentally-challenged brother, who desperately needs his mother’s semblance of order, even as Tim’s steadily growing independence threatens everyone’s comfort. Complicating the unit is John (Frankie J. Holden), Jean’s ex-husband, who rarely sees his children, and Ronnie Stubbs (Philip Quast), a cheeky suitor who is looking to impress Jean. Amidst the chaos and struggle of preserving her well-practiced, picturesque household ideals, Jean may unwittingly destroy all of it herself.
A truly sad attempt at reproducing the sincere wonder and emotion evoked from the dysfunctional dynamic of “American Beauty,” “Introducing the Dwights” (known as “Clubland” in Australia, where it was filmed) tries hard to weave an interesting story filled with offbeat personas. But those characters are so contemptible, they’re difficult to watch. Blethyn’s Jean is the most vile of creatures, and yet viewers are intended to sympathize with or relate to her, which is entirely impossible, even as she adopts varying viewpoints to cope with her son’s dissipating attentions. Tim shares the spotlight with Jean, but also manages to be unworthy as a point of interest. Coming from such an estranged and delusional family, he’s understandably inept at relationships, but his inability to make decisions and act on his instincts is aggravating at best. Tim’s bizarrely uncomfortable association with Jill only becomes mildly amusing due to its abrasiveness to the senses. Whether or not this awkwardness is intended to be biting realism or eccentric comedy, the absurdity places it in the realm of something like “Napoleon Dynamite.” The laughs, unfortunately, are nowhere to be found.
Brenda Blethyn turns in a surprisingly decent performance, despite the script only allowing for contempt and disregard for her character. The fact that viewers will despise her so comprehensively is a compliment to Blethyn’s acting, yet this is clearly not what the director had in mind. And Wilson’s Mark, though presumably realistically portrayed, is used almost entirely for comic relief, which makes for an exploitive, troubling source of humor. Like the rest of the production, the artistry is small-minded, ambitionless, soap-opera dreck, sure to make moviegoers wish that they were never introduced to the Dwights.
– Mike Massie