A sweet Australian comedy cut from the same gently farcical cloth as "Crocodile Dundee" and "Muriel's Wedding", "The Castle" is a keeper.
While additional comparisons to "The Full Monty" are inevitable, the underdog story - which set boxoffice records Down Under - doesn't quite have that English sensation's crowd-rousing sweep but should nevertheless charm select-site North American audiences.
Created by the team responsible for "Frontline", a hit Aussie satirical political affairs show, "The Castle" concerns itself with the efforts of noble tow-truck driver Kerrigan (Michael Caton) to stand his ground when he receives notice that his beloved family dwelling in Cooloroo is being "compulsorily acquired" to make room for airport expansion.
With the loving support of his wife, Sal (Anne Tenney), and his grown-up children Dale (Stephen Curry), Steve (Anthony Simcoe), married Tracey (Sophie Lee) and incarcerated Wayne (Wayne Hope), Darryl fights the good fight all the way to the Supreme Court. He gets a little extra help from a retired Queen's Counsel and constitutional specialist (Charles Bud Tingwell) who is taken with his cause and offers his services free of charge.
Written in two weeks and shot in 11 days, "The Castle" certainly doesn't feel like a rush job. Making his feature debut, director Rob Sitch allows the quirky, character-specific humor to languidly cascade over the proceedings like one of Cooloroo's diesel-tinged breezes.
The screenplay, penned by Sitch along with Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner and Jane Kennedy, nimbly flirts with parody while never taking broad shots at the eminently lovable Kerrigan family.
Credit the adept cast with bringing the richly written characters to warmly vivid life. As the principled family patriarch, Caton combines a winning comic innocence and everyman determination that sets the tone for the other performances, which also include humorous contributions from Tiriel Mora as Kerrigan's sad-sack discount lawyer and Costas Kilias as his gung-ho Lebanese neighbor.
A Miramax Films presentation
in association with Village Roadshow Pictures
and Working Dog
Screenwriters:Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy, Rob Sitch
Executive producer:Michael Hirsh
Director of photography:Miriana Marusic
Production designer:Carrie Kennedy
Costume designer:Kitty Stuckey
Music supervisor:Jane Kennedy
Darryl Kerrigan:Michael Caton
Sal Kerrigan:Anne Tenney
Dale Kerrigan:Stephen Curry
Steve Kerrigan:Anthony Simcoe
Tracey Kerrigan:Sophie Lee
Wayne Kerrigan:Wayne Hope
Dennis Denuto:Tiriel Mora
Lawrence Hammill:Charles Bud Tingwell
Running time - 89 minutes
MPAA rating: R