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This is an very Australian film built for a particular sense of humour.
Having lived in both Sydney and Melbourne, I feel I can say that this will
appeal more to the Melbourne than the Sydney sense of humour.
Forget "The Crocodile Hunter", Nicole Kidman or Russel Crowe. This is a lot closer to your typical Australian.
Reading the other comments, two things surprised me.
1) That anybody outside Australia, the UK, NZ or Ireland actually got this movie. To those Americans who praised it, thank you for taking the time to appreciate something outside your normal experiences.
2) The ferocity with with those who didn't get it damned the movie.
The Castle is very very clever. Yes, there are references to "wogs" and "lebs", but if given how that's exactly how a large percentage of these ethnic groups refer to themselves, they are terms without power and thus are rarely used in a racist sense. Melbourne is a wog city. It has the largest Greek population outside of Greece and is the third largest Greek city in the world. It also feature a huge population of first, second or third generation Italians. Some of my ex-coworkers sounded like they were straight out the Godfather. Then there are the lebs and the polacks and and a great mix of European Cultures.
Wogs. The lot of them. :)
To reduce the movie to laughing at the lack of intelligence in the family or to picking on racial minorities (not that the wogs are a minority in Melbourne), is to miss the point entirely. If you don't live in Aus, I can fully understand why this would be the case.
But simply because a movie is a outside your understanding or experience or doesn't fit your personal expectations of what is "funny" it no reason to condemn it. Once you get more sophisticated than "Beverly Hills Cop", you are not going to carry 100% of the audience, and the audience shouldn't expect that it would. (Notable exceptions exist.. Dead Poets' Society immediately comes to mind)
Personally, I like movies is one that makes a social comment, or those that a rift in society and stir informed debate. The Castle is a reflection on the "Australian Dream", if such a thing exists, which is that everybody should get "A fair go". This is streets apart from the American dream of riches beyond imagination at the expense of everything else, and highlights the great difference between the two cultures.
This movie was quite a surprise, and a pleasant one at that. To be
honest, I would probably never have rented nor watched this movie if
broadcast, based on the amateurish look of the video cover and the ads.
My reaction to it, before seeing it was that it was another movie
slapped together to piggyback onto the success of another movie with
the same actor/director/theme etc.etc. while the fire was hot. But, a
friend borrowed it from the library, and the video was sitting there,
so I decided to watch it. Was I happily surprised! The one liners make
this movie, if you pay attention and catch them all, this movie has
many a belly laugh. It was true to life too, I KNOW these people,
whether they come from Australia or Arkansas, they're out there, and
this is their reality.
Remove the accents, put a few non working appliances in the front yard, a car up on cinder blocks, and you have the American version. A very nice surprise for me, if you like humor that doesn't insult your intellect, you'll like this movie. Many a memorable line in it too.
I would disagree with others who have commented on the profanity in this movie. In this case there is very little profanity for profanity's sake, it's usually very well timed and ads to the storyline, like when he passes the barrister the note in court.
This is one of those movies, like "This Is Spinal Tap", that appears to
aim low but taps into a certain subculture so precisely that it is
elevated into something wonderful.
As a pom living in Sydney, I always insist that all overseas visitors watch this film in order to "get" Australia and Australians. The Kerrigan family are easy to mock, but qualities of togetherness, moral courage, unpretentiousness and un-PC earthiness embody a great strand of the national character and warm them to us.
Most of all, though, The Castle is just plain funny. You'll find yourself using the catchphrases over and over again, and you'll smile every time you do it. It's just one of those films. A classic.
Every once and while you find yourself watching a movie you have heard
nothing about. A film with no A-Listed actors, no director with a treasure
trove of awards and the sheer name of the films title at an office water
cooler would result in blank stares and crickets scratching their hind legs
in the background. Such was the case with the 1997 Australian gem, The
Directed by Rob Sitch, who went on to help another underachieving treasure with The Dish, the story is about an Australian family's struggle to keep their home in lieu of being given a compulsory notice from the government that the airport is expanding where their house presently stands. Although I try not to be simplistic and sum up an entire plot in as little as one sentence, really, that is all you need you know to enjoy this independent comedy.
The family is played by a host of unknowns. Michael Caton, Anne Tenney, Stephen Curry, Anthony Simcoe, Sophia Lee and Wayne Hope play Darryl, Sal, Dale, Steve, Tracy and Wayne Kerrigan. The family lives a simple life and enjoys their time together to the fullest. They complement each other at each dinner table, they watch television as a family unit and they spend their time discussing items listed for sale in the trades papers. Their sister just got married and other than the eldest son being in jail for a crime the family holds no grudges, things could not be better.
So when the government sends notice that they must leave their house for the airport expansion, they agree not to go down without a fight and they illicit the help of other street families and a local barrister that has no business defending in Federal Court.
You might think this all sounds very serious for a comedy plot line, but it's the exact opposite. The story begins with a long narration from the youngest son who reflects on how proud he is of his family. He talks about how each member bring a unique talent to the unit and how the father figure is the one that is full of positive reinforcement. The narration and visuals surrounding his description are Australian humor at its best. Whether we are laughing at the fathers adoration and praise of simple tasks like the scooping of ice cream from a tub or the wonderment of family members over an invention of a motorcycle helmet with a brake light on the back, we marvel at the sheer naivety of the family and what it deems to be important.
The best way to covey this functional family unit is to describe it as a family of Woody Boyd's from Cheers or a litter of Joey characters from Friends. They all utter words we would deem obtuse, but it is all in good fun and it comes across as simple people simply observing their surroundings and commenting on how they interact with the world. As example, when Dale Kerrigan is speaking of the family's fame after taking the matters to court, he narrates, `Dad said it was funny how one day you're not famous, and the next day you are. Famous. And then you're not again.' There speech is entirely primitive, but funny in the same vein.
To go into more detail about the film would give away too much and this film must really be viewed and enjoyed without expectation. You may not belly laugh at any time during the short 84 minute running time, but I doubt you won't spend time shaking your head in reaction to something a Kerrigan family member utters with a I can't believe he just said that' notion.
So I recommend The Castle. I recommend it with pause. It is an above average comedy that was made for less money than the cost of the Matrix end credits (They used the family name Kerrigan so they could use Kerrigan trucks during the shoot), but it can teach us a lot about the family unit. Here is a group of simpletons that love each other, respect each other and will do anything to preserve their home'. What better lesson is there than that?
This is a shocking movie. Shocking in the sense that it's centered around a family that genuinely loves each other. It came across as such an odd concept in this day and age that I thought at first that there must be a catch - could the family be cannibals? Zombies? A cult of pagan jaywalkers? But no, they were simply a "family" in absolutely the best sense of the word. The conflict of the movie arises from the fact that the airport bordering their loving home wants to expand and uses some Australian law that grants them the right to buy out their neighbors without the neighbors having any sayso in the matter. Well this just won't do and so the plot is set into motion when the quirky homeowner decides to fight the ruling with his reluctant friend, a probate attorney who is woefully unprepared to take on the big guns in law, but who nonetheless feels obligated to help his friends no matter what the obstacle. Overall the movie has such charm, such style and such love that, by films end, you want to be adopted by the family, quirks and all. An excellent movie.
I just loved everything about this movie. This is how comedy films
should be made. It's just a really beautifully scripted and perfectly
acted film and there are just so many extremely funny scenes in it that
it's hard to pick out a favourite.
It would have been so easy to ruin this movie by overacting, as happens in many American comedies, but everybody gets it just right and the end result is that rare thing - a perfect movie! The Kerrigan family home is under threat from the local airport authorities who want to use the land their house is built on to extend the airport. Their father, Darryl Kerrigan, played brilliantly by Michael Caton, vows to fight them all the way and engages a local lawyer, Dennis Denuto (played by Tiriel Mora), to help him fight the case in the courts. Unfortunately, the lawyer is a small-time criminal defender who has no knowledge of property rights or constitutional law - but this doesn't bother Darryl since he has complete faith in Dennis' ability to save his home.
The film follows the Kerrigans battles through the various courts and contains some of the funniest and most heart-warming courtroom scenes that I've ever seen. Everyone should see this movie!
This is undoubtedly one of the funniest films ever made, and needs to be
considered alongside This is Spinal Tap for consistent and enduring
brilliance. That said, if (as another reviewer has said here) you haven't
laughed after 5 minutes, just give up - it isn't for you.
While Tap has muted backhanded affection for heavy rock while simultaneously ripping into its absurdities, The Castle completely LOVES its characters as much as it makes them look utterly ridiculous. The entire cast are superb, there are a hundred quotable lines, and the simple story may seem clichéd, but is nevertheless executed to warm-hearted perfection. A special nod should go to Tiriel Mora as inept solicitor Dennis Denuto, who has the ability to make you cry with laughter on the 10th viewing.
No family has less taste or less of a clue about, well, anything than the Kerrigans. And yet by the end, there is no family you'd rather belong to.
This film, most definitely, is going straight to the pool room.
Of all the excellent comedies the vastly underrated Australian film
industry makes, this is the only one which I insist that every single
friend I make from overseas must watch.
This is the quintessential Aussie film - a simple story about a family trying to keep things the way they are, not afraid to have a go at those in power who think they would like to "develop" these people. It's brilliant.
Basic plot: The Kerrigan household is a happy one, but a knock on the door one day changes that. Faced with a compulsory acquisition notice, the family's patriarch decides to take on the system, and to prove for once and for all that a man's home is his castle.
The jokes are funny, but are very Aussie-centric. I'm really surprised at the amount of positive feedback in these reviews from non Aussies, I've always felt that this is one movie which requires a 'native speakin' translator' if you are to get all the jokes! (And tend to recommend overseas folk watch The Dish, made by the same film team but is far more accessible and wider in scope than the very narrowly aimed Castle, which is really just driven by Australian humour, language and colloquialisms).
A true gem, very vibrant movie. For anyone who grew up in a similar location (not next to an airport, but in a 'bogan', working class suburb or small town) it will remind you of so many things you saw as a child. Profanity? Get over it, that's how we talk!
The plot is very standard, predictable fare, and frankly, from what I'd heard through word of mouth, I was afraid that this would be a MIRAMAX formula feel good picture like "The Full Monty", or "Little Voice". Well, I'm very glad to be able to say that it isn't. This is the real thing, and it is the character of the family, all their quirks, and the small touches that makes this a great comedy. I have no doubt this will be a film that I'll revisit again and again. How many films do you see that, the next day a number of lines, and bits still playback in your head? If you like films like "This Is Spinal Tap", and the other Christopher Guest films, and like characters from "Fargo", I'd recommend "The Castle". It's a charming little gem.
Roland E Zwick felt compelled to write a rather scathing review of The
Castle and how it failed to meet one major requirement for a comedy... it
was not funny. Well, that is fine and I can accept the fact that maybe
idea of what constitutes humour is seemingly at odds with the vast
of voters on IMDB, however I do think that he should get a few facts
straight before he makes comments about so called influences he has
attributed to this film. Roland stated:
""The Castle," a highly praised Australian farce, is a decidedly minor, lackluster and virtually laughless installment in the recently very popular genre known as the offbeat working class comedy. This vain attempt to mine the territory exploited so successfully a few years back in "The Full Monty," mistakes quirkiness for humor, so much so that it is not overstating it to say that there is nary a laugh in the film's entire (and blessedly brief) 84 minute running time."
Unfortunately, if Roland had bothered to do his homework just a little better, he would have noticed that "The Castle" released in Australia 10th April 1997 and the US 7th May 1997 does actually predate "The Full Monty" which was released in the UK on 27th October, in Australia on the 16th October 1997 and the US on the 13th August 1997. As this seemed to be something that affected his judgement (his use of the term "vain attempt" was a rather strong condemnation), I felt it was an error that needed to be put right.
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