Infamovies: Father’s Day (2011)

An off-beat black comedy that holds its tongue firmly, immovably in its cheek and takes the most protected refuge in audacity I’ve seen in a long while has been banned in Australia.

This comedy is called Father’s Day, and I honestly can’t see why it’s been banned.

So far, the only reasoning I can hunt down is from the Australian Classification Board’s website which follows:

“Reason: Film 1(a) The film is classified RC in accordance with the National Classification Code, Films Table, 1. (a) as films that “depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified.”

This film, other than being genuinely hilarious as black comedies go, is also a Troma film, or at least partly produced by Troma. So right off the bat, the tone and bar at which you place the “reasonable adults” has to be set a little higher, as Troma audiences are used to more offensive films and kind of revel in it.

But this movie is audacious, rather than offensive. If anything, it’s actually quite good-hearted in its humour, which, yes, is extravagant and over the top and at times completely tasteless, but that’s the point.

The plot is this:

A serial killer whose M.O. is to kill fathers after raping them is on the loose, causing the death of dads everywhere. He is known as “The Fuchman” and made the mistake years ago of killing our protagonist Ahab’s father. Ahab is a tough and grizzled man with an eyepatch who lives his days in the woods, tapping maple syrup from trees even though they’re not actually maple trees (yes, the film is Canadian).

Also along for the ride are Twink, a young gay hustler whose recently lost his overbearing father to The Fuchman’s spree, and Father John Sullivan, a young priest who’s been tasked with looking after Twink as part of the latter’s father’s dying wish.

The three team up to hunt down The Fuchman and end his spree, but things get complicated when Ahab’s sister Chelsea gets kidnapped by the Fuchman, culminating in a literal trip to hell to save her.

This is a priest, holding an angel hostage in front of God. Your banning is invalid

I’m deliberately keeping the synopsis light, because, if this does ever get reallowed in Australia, I really don’t want to spoil this for an audience, because it’s fucking awesome. It’s not quite at the same level, but this fits right alongside other self-aware tongue-in-cheek comedies like Black Dynamite, and given my love of Black Dynamite, that’s high praise.

So yes, there’s rape in this movie, and while I normally stay very guarded about what I say on that topic for fear of accidental implications, it’s nowhere near as offensive as it could be here. Right from the start, the tone of this movie is set at ludicrously exaggerated, and so the few rape scenes (all of which are The Fuchman raping men) are used as offensive comedy. To parallel, consider dead-baby-jokes. Many find them incredibly offensive, but the point of those jokes is not that the punch line is funny, they’re funny because of how ridiculously-inappropriate it is to tell them at all. This movie’s rape content works like that.

Please don’t misconstrue that as me saying “male rape is automatically funny” because it’s absolutely not (remember this review?), but this film is aware its not funny and so has used it as a segment of a theme for some very black humour.

That theme is that everything to do with The Fuchman is essentially portrayed as disturbingly as a Buffalo Bill/John Doe/Martin-From-The-Human-Centipede-Part-II type killer, but in the context of a completely ridiculous, frivolous comedy. It’s intentionally dissonant, and it works realty well, because, like those jokes up above, you probably shouldn’t be laughing at what you’re seeing, but you can’t help yourself.

And that element is not actually the main focus of the film – the comedy is very much centred on the three leads and their complete over-the-topness and how goofy they all are. It’s very well done, and very very funny.

So – objectionable content? This is the only part where light spoilers will appear:

Twink is at one point stated to be 16-years-old by his pimp, but it really comes off more as though the pimp is trying to shame Twink’s customer – part of the joke is that Conor Sweeney, actor portraying Twink, looks significantly older than that.

The rape is objectionable on a thematic purpose alone, but what’s seen in the film is brief, not prolonged or explicit, and mitigated by the comedic tone of the film.

There is a shot that comes seemingly out of nowhere where The Fuchman injects something into the tip of his penis, then cuts it slightly so it bleeds, which he then uses to ritually-mark the captive Chelsea. It’s pretty explicit, although the film is also making a joke out of the obvious usage of a prop phallus, and again, mitigated by the bizarre comedy of the film.

Another scene – is set in hell where a strange grotesque demon, who’s been enslaving Chelsea, is defeated and shrunken down into a smaller version of itself, essentially resembling a demon-baby, which Chelsea then promptly stomps into a gooey, Troma-esque mess. Again – not even remotely played for horror, and mitigated by the comedy.

And finally, and I suspect it may actually be this that got it banned, as the plot turns stranger and more bizarre, an incestuous relationship between Ahab and Chelsea forms. While there is a relatively explicit sex scene between the two (although not pornographically so), it’s entirely played for laughs. The entire point is that the film is so out-of-touch with normality that this kind of makes sense, and it’s lampshaded like hell that you’re laughing at incest – again, because of its impropriety. When it actually occurs the first time, Chelsea is possessed by a demon, and so you’re initially meant to think that it’s funny because he’s so awkward about it afterwards, and that the film is on your side going “incest isn’t right”, but after they save unpossessed-Chelsea from hell, the first thing she does is the big huge romantic kiss…with her brother.

At no single point in time is any of the above meant to be played seriously, and it’s intentionally, ridiculously hilarious, and describing it is probably the biggest disservice I could do the film, except for fucking banning it!

What I’ve listed above is the only content in this film I can see that would push this beyond and R18+ rating, and for that to happen, you have to have had an entire classification board that simply didn’t get the joke. Sadly, that’s probably exactly what happened. They’re admittedly touchy about anything that remotely suggest peadophilia, but the one scene of Twink hustling is so non-explicit and very clearly not performed by an actual minor that I can’t begin to see how that would bring an RC rating down on this movie’s head.

But it’s not like this type of movie is unprecedented – the entire back catalogue of Troma is tonally similar, and nearly all of those films have been allowed. But more to the point, there’s actually considerably more actively offensive stuff out there that’s been permitted. Off the top of my head, Nude Nuns With Big Guns is a similar sort of film that has nowhere near the comedy or sophistication of its execution as Father’s Day does, and is a decidedly nasty little shit of a movie. Father’s Day is certainly off the beaten track of movies, but for the most part, it’s a really light-hearted film, that definitely deserves an R18+ rating.

I can honestly not understand why this was banned, especially in comparison to some of the other things I’ve seen out there that have been permitted. It’s a crying shame, because this film was an absolutely fantastic watch. There’s a definite audience for it, and I doubt there’d be many out there who agree it’s extreme enough to warrant banning.

Maybe the ACB just really has it in for Monster Pictures – they’ve definitely lost a great opportunity here to distribute a film that would’ve become a cult classic. I’m hoping it goes before the review board, because I want to be able to watch this legitimately.

Clicking the link below will take you to a great resource centre if you’d like to protest this.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s