Director P.J. Hogan won over gay audiences with his film Muriel's Wedding, starring Toni Colette and Rachel Griffiths. While both of those leading ladies and Hogan have gone on to careers in Hollywood (he directed romcom fare such as My Best Friend’s Wedding and Confessions of a Shopaholic), both Hogan and Colette have teamed up once again and returned to their native Australia for another quirky comedy with heart. In Mental, Hogan has adapted his own life story to the screen about a family of misfits who are cared for by a foul-mouthed hitchhiker named Shaz (Colette). And he's traded in ABBA for The Sound of Music, which is frequently featured in Mental.
At one point, Shaz calls herself "the avenging angel of the perpetually humiliated," so a lot of gay boys can probably relate. As Hogan explained in a recent interview, there is a message for bullied kids in the film:
Fight back. That was Shaz’s message to me: “Fight back.” I said, “I can’t pull a knife on anybody. First, they’ll knock it out of my hands and beat the shit of me. Second, I might kill someone and I can’t do that.” She told me to fight back on other ways. She said, “You have a smart mouth on you, kid, use it. You’re dealing with a bunch of morons here."
I know it’s tough with kids, and particularly young gay kids—my heart breaks for them when they’re in a small town. There’s still a stigma and when they’re bullied, adults turn a blind eye to it. That’s terrible and most damaging. Every kid needs an advocate. It should be their parents, but sometimes it’s not.
Mental opens and is on VOD on March 29. Watch the trailer below: