A remote Australian community, populated by quirky characters, plays a key role in the first Apollo moon landing.A remote Australian community, populated by quirky characters, plays a key role in the first Apollo moon landing.A remote Australian community, populated by quirky characters, plays a key role in the first Apollo moon landing.
Being heavily promoted as "from the makers of 'The Castle' " may get a few extra punters in the door - particularly here in Australia where the exploits of the Working Dog team are rightly well known and loved; but those expecting "The Castle 2" will be in for a surprise.
But a pleasant one. This film is much more ambitious, much larger in scope. As is to be expected, the writing here is very sharp - a likeable group of characters are defined very well very quickly, the simple plot flows smoothly, and there is a constant stream of funny (and some downright hilarious) moments. Much of the humour is distinctly Aussie, and much of it arises from the culture clash between the locals and the visiting Americans. Yet despite this, the film does not stoop to the level of "Ocker cliché" which plagues several other Australian films. There is a core of simple humanity here which makes it very engaging. It is for this reason also that I think the film will play very well in other countries.
The cast is also very impressive, from the habitually sound Sam Neill, who projects an immense dignity, and Patrick Warburton as the pressured NASA official sent to oversee the operation, right down to the Mayor's son, reeling off technical details of the spacecraft to his bemused dad. It is a credit to the cast, and to Rob Sitch as a director that I was rarely aware that I was watching a film, I was simply drawn into the experience.
Those, like me, who wanted to be an Astronaut when they were little, and maintained an interest in the space program, will enjoy seeing the famous footage again in a new light. Those looking for a comedy will find many laughs herein. Those curious to understand the nature of being Australian will find some clues. And those just looking for a film to make them feel good could do much much worse. In short, "The Dish" is one of those rare movies which will appeal to pretty much everyone. I can't really think of any serious criticisms, and left the cinema feeling... well, "nice". I have no doubt it will play well in Australia, but I also hope it does well overseas too, in the US and elsewhere. I'd recommend it to everyone I know, and everyone else.
When this one comes out on DVD I'll be getting a copy, and it'll be going straight to the pool room!
- Oct 13, 2000