Things are not going well for Kenneth. He's received some shocking news from his doctor, he's lost his job and he thinks his girlfriend, who's been distant as of late, is going to be dumping him soon. It becomes much worse when a malicious goblin crawls out of Kenneth's ear that he can only see and wants to make his life a living hell. Poor Kenneth's world is spiraling out of control and his only hope may come from a homeless man he's befriended.
With an attention grabbing poster featuring an extreme close up of the face of a green creature and a tagline mentioning an invisible ear goblin. Monster Island Films definitely had my curiosity with their movie "Kenneth". I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to get with this indie film from the UK besides it being about a man and him having to deal with a troublesome goblin. Personally, my mind went immediately to the likes of "Drop Dead Fred" -- I assumed it would be a simple and silly little movie about an invisible creature getting our title character into trouble. Pleasantly, "Kenneth" was more than that and it turned out to be an endearing little movie.
The aptly titled film is about Kenneth, an average guy who has received some devastating news from his doctor. This one moment causes a great shift and forces the quiet introvert to deal with everything in his life and, to make matters worse, a terrifying goblin has emerged from Kenneth's ear and only he can see it. While Kenneth has to figure out how to deal with the news from his doctor, he also has to deal with losing his job and his overwhelming fear of losing his girlfriend Kim. All while he has an obnoxious green goblin hanging around who won't leave him alone and seems to be making everything much worse. There might be hope for the young man when he befriends a homeless man named Peter. Kenneth might be able to get his life back on track just yet. Or end up in jail. Or something much, much worse.
What I was expecting "Kenneth" to be is not what I got at all and it was certainly for the better. As I said, I was expecting something a bit goofier and silly. Something more along the lines of, "Look at the whacky situations Kenneth finds himself in because of the goblin!" The type of a movie where you can almost hear a laugh track. Instead, the movie is much more subtle with the humor. Sometimes. "Kenneth" isn't afraid to play somethings for laughs since part of the movie's tone is a comedy after all, and Stephen Mosley (as the goblin) puts on an entertaining performance. He almost even seems to have that trouble-making twinkle in his eye.
"Kenneth" is actually more about the emotional journey of it's title character -- sometimes it's funny and sometimes it's dramatic. It's a slice-of-life movie where the story works a few different ways. Kenneth learns that he has something in his brain, very likely a tumor (I'm not spoiling the movie for you guys. You learn this in the very beginning of the movie and this bit of info is in the trailer too.), and this obviously shocking news sets off a chain of events that causes a great deal of change in his life. On the one hand, you have the kind of typical story of a dramatic incident that forces a protagonist to deal with a situation that they would normally avoid. Kenneth, a quiet and anti-confrontational person, now has no choice but to deal with his problems, like his prick of a boss. Something most of us can relate too, I think.
The other part of the story, and the one that resonated with me the most, is that the movie's story and character deal with self perception. Kenneth's personality and attitude is built around this idea of himself and results in also how he views those around him. It's the main problem he faces with his girlfriend -- Kenneth assumes the worse instead of seeing what the actual 'problem' is and instead of dealing with it, he'd rather just cut his loses and shut her out of his life before she can hurt him The ear goblin is the manifestation of the those fears that creat those thoughts. The ones that we all have that cause us to screw up our own lives -- our paranoia that maybe the person we're with doesn't love us or will leave. Those awful subconscious thoughts that always surface, no matter how much we try to suppress them. With Kenneth though, instead of having a little nagging he now has an uugly little creature screaming it at him in his face. It's kind of hard to ignore something like that.
And he not only has to deal with his own personal demons, Kenneth essentially goes through the "five stages of grief" because of the news of a possible tumor. Anger, denial, depression, acceptance, etc. Mix that in with all of his other problems, and soon Kenneth begins to feel like his whole world is falling apart. However help comes from an unlikely source, and for Kenneth, it's a homeless man who helps him to push him to confront his issues and to push on through. Forwhat kind of movie "Kenneth" is, it executes its concept right: a bit outlandish but deep down deals with something real.
"Kenneth" can be silly at times and is a fun movie overall but what made it enjoyable is because at its core it has a lot of heart and deals with a more personal story. More personal than you would think with a movie that's about an ear goblin. It does a good job of mixing in the comedy with the drama that allows the movie to feel relatively light. It isn't heavy-handed nor does weigh too heavily on one side or another. Probably not an adjective Film Bizarro's readers like to see in regards to the movies we cover, but "Kenneth" is a rather sweet little indie movie.
Note: While this review is based off the rental streaming copy that is available from the movie's website. There is a DVD that's in the works, so if you don't like to stream your movies, then keep an eye on their homepage or Facebook page.