New Aussie film set in Northern Rivers

THE Northern Rivers will be the setting for a new film by the director of My Best Friends Wedding, Peter Pan, and Confessions of a Shopahlic.

Universal Pictures Australia, Story Bridge Films and Zucker Productions have this morning announced PJ Hogan’s latest feature film, Mental, will start filming on the Northern Rivers on Monday.

Set in the suburban landscape of Tweed Heads, Mental, written and directed by PJ Hogan and produced by Jerry Zucker, Janet Zucker, Todd Fellman and Jocelyn Moorhouse, stars Golden Globe Winner Toni Collette (United States of Tara, Little Miss Sunshine, About A Boy, The Sixth Sense) in a film that re-unites her with PJ Hogan for the first time in 17 years – since Muriel’s Wedding.

Mental is the story of Shaz (Toni Collette), a charismatic, crazy, hotheaded hitchhiker, who transforms the Moochmore family when she becomes the nanny to its five girls.

Shirley Moochmore—a mother unable to cope with her demanding daughters and without the support of Barry, her philandering politician husband—suffers a nervous breakdown and is committed to a mental hospital. Desperate and suddenly alone with five teenage girls, Barry impulsively brings hitchhiker Shaz home to be the new nanny.

Toni Collette accompanies Liev Schreiber (Salt, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and a huge A-list Australian cast including Anthony LaPaglia (Without A Trace, Balibo) as Barry Moochmore and Rebecca Gibney (Packed to the Rafters) as Shirley Moochmore. Also joining the ensemble are Kerry Fox (Cloudstreet, Bright Star), Caroline Goodall (Dorian Gray) Deborah Mailman (Offspring, Bran Nue Dae), and Sam Clark (Neighbours). 

The Moochmore girls—Coral, Michelle, Leanne, Kayleen and Jane—are five young actresses, soon to be announced, who were chosen from thousands of submissions to an open call for auditions.

PJ Hogan said he based the script on his own personal story.

“Like Muriel’s Wedding, Mental is a comedy laced with pain and brimming with flawed but loveable characters. Shaz is hilarious, outrageous, dangerous, courageous, inspiring, heart-breaking and totally, totally mad,” he said.

Jerry Zucker, who last collaborated with PJ on the box-office hit My Best Friend’s Wedding said he looked forward to filming in Australia.

“I'm thrilled to be back in the magical world of PJ Hogan. PJ has once again written a brilliant screenplay filled with all the bizarre and lovable characters from his childhood.  I can't wait to see it all come to life in Queensland where it all began," he said.

Universal Pictures Managing Director Mike Baard said: "PJ and Toni have delighted audiences these past 17 years with many great films and performances.

“To be part of the reunion of the Muriel's Wedding team is an honour and we intend to provide the film-makers with the support to bring their film to the widest possible audience in Australia and New Zealand".

Filming is expected to run until Friday, September 23. 

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