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Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00
Local opening date: 7/20/2007
Reviewed by Martha K. Baker
This Australian movie ought to be a sprightly little movie. The plot, when told, holds some promise, but when executed, it's apparent that there's a big hole in the center.

Jean Dwight is a starry-eyed comedian, bawdy and teasing, the kind who embarrasses old men in the audience. It's very believable that the parade's passed her by, one of her moans.

That's her night job. By day, she works in a canteen slinging hash. She has devised a little family unit out of her two sons. Mark has cerebral palsy and is funny, he thinks. Tim, at 16, though painfully shy, is the man of the house. He drives her to her gigs in his truck, which he hires as a moving van. Her former husband is a singer, the kind who covers the songs of Conway Twitty and who is farther from making it than Jean is.

Tim is called to help two young women move their furniture, and one of them, Jill, falls for him. And he for her. He's gobsmacked. He literally doesn't know how to talk in front of her, and the two girls, a whole lot more sophisticated, have a laugh at his expense even while Jill is falling in love. He finally admits the awful truth to her, that both his parents are entertainers.

He has tried to keep his relationship with Jill from his mother, but she worms the information out of Mark. Jean can't seem to remember the name Jill "" a real toughie, yeah. She's not at all pleased at the thought that she might be losing her right-hand man, her chauffeur, her shoulder. She does what she can to stop this romance, but it's already going faster than she can keep up with it.

Keith Thompson wrote the script, and he inserts a motif for Jean. She's always reminding her boys that she doesn't want the Sea World, or the KFC, or the Samantha episode all over again, giving the suggestion that she has seen her boys through quite a few tumbles. Cherie Nowlan directs. Early on, the girls seem to be hatching a horrid plan to take advantage of Tim and Mark, so the first third of the movie bears that weight, and then goes nowhere.

Brenda Blethyn stars as Jean, and she's always good. But that's part of the problem. She's so good that the distance between her and the rest of the cast just gets wider and wider as the movie goes on. Emma Booth is fine as Jill, who turns out to have more backbone and more kindness than in the first scenes. Khan Chittenden does well as Tim, but Richard Wilson's Mark is one of the worst interpretations of a palsied character with a palsy. He is not consistent at all.

Neither is Introducing the Dwights. Although there are laughs and sighs along the way, its center cannot hold. It addresses important issues, but never goes beyond the introduction.

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