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It is the great year 1907 and Dr Plonk (Nigel Lunghi aka Mr Spin), famous scientist and inventor, calculates that the world will end in 101 years unless immediate action is taken. As befalls visionaries through the ages, Plonk is ridiculed for his beliefs, by politicians, by bureaucrats, by even his faithful manservant, the deaf-mute Paulus (Paul Blackwell). Proof is required and the only acceptable proof lies in the very future that's ending. Being the lateral thinker that he is, Plonk invents a time machine. In quick succession Tiberius the dog (Reg), Plonk and Paulus all visit the future, 100 years hence; even Prime Minister Stalk (Wayne Anthoney) and Mrs Plonk (Magda Szubanski) make the trip. Not everyone returns, but all find the year 2007 a somewhat different place than they expected...

Review by Louise Keller:
After the artistry of Ten Canoes, Rolf de Heer takes a left-of-field innovative step with the unexpected and wondrous Dr Plonk. The title alone playfully beckons its difference and our creative juices are immediately whetted. To create a silent black and white comedy in this age of digital resourcefulness is bold indeed, and de Heer takes a simple concept and polishes it until is gleams. Beyond its novelty value, Dr Plonk is fresh and funny, wacky and outlandish as it combines slapstick, situation comedy and an audacious premise. It's an endearing time-travel romp that allows us to look at today's society in a totally different light.

In Ten Canoes, de Heer grounded his film in the present, allowing us to connect with the legends of the past. Here, in an upside-down twist, the authenticity of the black and white silent film-style format grounds us at a time shortly before Chaplin took the world by storm. By leap-frogging 100 years into 2007, de Heer winks broadly, inviting us to come along for the ride. And it is quite a ride, with a small, excellent cast comprising a street performer (Nigel Lunghi, aka Mr Spin), a comic actor (Paul Blackwell) and comedienne par excellence (Magda Szubanski). Lunghi is perfect as the brilliant po-faced Dr Plonk, exercising his considerable skills of mime, acrobatics and juggling, while he juggles the complexities of finding proof that his world's-end theory is true. Blackwell is hilarious as the unfortunate deaf (and overtly dumb) assistant who botches everything up; while Szubanski's comedic brilliance has never seemed so easy as she blots her screen husband's brow as convincingly as cracking the whip. De Heer's daughter Phoebe Paterson de Heer is a sweet background ornament as the maid, but no-one steals the scenes like adorable and ultra-obedient doggie Tiberius, whose passion for chasing balls wins hearts as well as delivering laughs.

Especially impressive is the music score, in which accordion, piano and violin almost speak their thoughts. The violin trills as Dr Plonk's momentous day begins and describes the ticking of the clock in apt pizzicato fashion. The chuckles begin from the very first banana peel flung on the ground, and as Dr Plonk and side-kick Paulus journey to and fro the 21st century (in the ocean, on a railway line, at a girl's school and in an automobile plant), the pranks acquire a cumulative effect. I enjoyed the chase in which two police officers get themselves into acrobatic twists in their pursuit, although the terrorist reference falls flat. But there are many unforgettable moments, like the one when Dr Plonk's inspiration lightbulb lights up. This is one lightbulb of De Heer's that won't dim.

DVD special features include The Making of Dr Plonk, Juggling Dr Plonk, The Ball Crazy Dog, The Hand Cranked Camera, The Dr Plonk Score

Published March 13, 2008

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(Aust, 2007)

CAST: Nigel Lunghi, Magda Szubanski, Paul Blackwell, Wayne Anthoney, Quientin Kenihan, Mike Rann, Bogdan Koca

PRODUCER: Rolf de Heer, Julie Ryan

DIRECTOR: Rolf de Heer

SCRIPT: Rolf de Heer


EDITOR: Tania Nehme

MUSIC: Graham Tardif


RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes




SPECIAL FEATURES: - The Making of DR PLONK[BREAK]- Juggling DR PLONK[BREAK]- The Ball Crazy Dog[BREAK]- The Hand Cranked Camera[BREAK]- The DR PLONK Score[BREAK]- Original Theatrical Trailer[BREAK]- Australian Teachers of Media Study Guide


DVD RELEASE: March 12, 2008

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