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DISH, THE

SYNOPSIS:
The Parkes telescope – with its three Australian operatives Cliff Buxton (Sam Neill), Mitch (Kevin Harrington) and Glenn (Tom Long) – takes centre stage in the role of transmitting the television pictures from Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon. This is an incident not without mishap, but with the help of NASA’s man on the spot, Al Burnett (Patrick Warburton), and the local community, headed by the Mayor (Roy Billing), the big event is handled impeccably. And in true Australian style. Or should that read ‘but’ in true Australian … er… style. True story. Mostly.

"Still treading that fine line between ridicule and affectionate caricature of their characters – as they did in The Castle – the Working Dog team has accomplished a miraculous fusion of Big Story with Little Folk (much credit to Rob Sitch’s direction). This fact based yarn about the Moon landing (omitting some really bizarre facts like the then Mayor’s real name being Cec Moon), explores how the event placed a small community and some ordinary people onto the stage at one of mankind’s greatest, most uplifting (literally) moments. Glenn the bespectacled nerd at the telescope, the Mayor, a security guard with L plates, the Prime Minister (unidentified) and some of the townsfolk, are all a bit larger than life. A bit like toned down caricatures. Rather like some of the characters in Strictly Ballroom. But the rest are grounded, real, multi-dimensional and fleshy. The enjoyment – and there is much of that – comes from the elevation of the Parkes community and the telescope’s responsibilities by the enormity of the Apollo mission – and how the Australian character deals with that. It’s satisfying and funny but also engaging and yes, gripping. Andrew S. Gilbert continues to impress, with a compleat performance; Kevin Harrington’s fans from Seachange will rightly fawn over this performance; and Sam Neill delivers a solid centre for the three engineers that faught off fawltyness at Parkes. The American casting is superb, and one of the key elements of the film’s predictable success. At least in English speaking parts of the world, and possibly even America."
Andrew L. Urban

"Epitomising the Australian larrikin spirit, The Dish is a genuine feast of entertainment that will make you laugh, squirm and feel all gooey inside. High in energy, this well-scripted character driven comedy gives us a new perspective of the Apollo Moon landing – the unique one from down under, emanating from the middle of a sheep's paddock. I must say, I enjoyed The Dish more than The Castle; the team from Working Dog Productions has come up with a ripper of a yarn that has a big heart and showcases all our Australian sensibilities. A superb production, director Rob Sitch has meticulously captured the mood of the era, and brought all the elements from his team together beautifully –production design, cinematography, editing, music and immaculate casting. Filled with generosity of spirit, the characters are originals, who make us cringe as we chuckle and empathise with their plight. We do genuinely care for them and the humour is never forced, but just seeps out effortlessly. Sam Neill provides a solid backbone, allowing Kevin Harrington, Tom Long and Patrick Warburton to expose their characters' many quirky layers. The American casting works exceptionally well, while Roy Billing is a knock out as the Mayor: his foot-in-mouth, lovable Bob McIntyre steals many scenes and gets many of the best lines. This is rural Australia in the late sixties, and the openness of the landscape and the feeling of isolation is well observed and portrayed. My toes were tapping full time with tunes like Good Morning Starshine, The Real Thing and Classical Gas, and whether you were around in the late sixties or not, you'll enjoy the trip. Integration of actual news footage sets up the perspective, and the climactic moon landing scenes generate a sense of overwhelming pride and achievement. We are rooting for these characters all along, through all the mishaps, bungles and problems, willing them to come through. She'll be right' is the attitude, and thumbs up is the outcome."
Louise Keller

"If The Castle was one small step for producers Working Dog Productions, their second feature The Dish is a giant leap forward. With a story so incredible and compelling it simply has to be based on truth, The Dish is a sweetly done comedy with a heart as big as the Parkes telescope itself. Director Rob Sitch and his colleagues have created a memorable roster of Aussie types (and a few Yanks to boot) to carry this delightful piece of patriotism which strikes paydirt by tapping the spirit of the underdog and wrapping it up in cuddly nostalgia. Sam Neill, complete with a cardigan & pipe ensemble, is wonderful as the dedicated mission controller; Tom Long again shows why he's one of the brightest young talents around as Neill's mathematically brilliant but romantically inept assistant; Roy Billing IS every country town mayor rolled into one and works a funny double act with Andrew S. Gilbert as his sidekick with a penchant for razor sharp analysis. The real find is Tayler Kane whose immaculate seriousness makes Rudi the telescope security guard an hilarious and endearing creation. The Dish offers an affectionate parody of unsophisticated Australia, circa 1969, but never descends into the grotesque. Even during the ghastly entertainment turned on by Parkes for the US ambassador and the Prime Minister (a special nod to unsung character actor Bille Brown for his spot-on perf) this is always human and affectionate. Even if some of the jokes fall flat and there's a tendency to try and extract too much mileage from Aussie slang and running gags it's easy to surrender to the charms of this winner."
Richard Kuipers



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

FEATURE:
THE DISH: GETTING IT READY

DVD REVIEW

HEAR Andrew L. Urban's interview with Rob Sitch & Santo Cilauro

DISH, THE (M15+)
(Aus)

CAST: Sam Neill, Kevin Harrington, Tom Long, Patrick Warburton, Genevieve Mooy, Tayler Kane, Roy Billing, Bille Brown


DIRECTOR: Rob Sitch

PRODUCER: Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy, Rob Sitch

SCRIPT: Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy, Rob Sitch

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Graeme Wood

EDITOR: Jill Bilcock

MUSIC: Edmund Choi

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Carrie Kennedy

RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 19, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: April 11, 2001







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