Danny (Rhys Ifans) is a cement worker looking forward to his long-planned holiday with live-in girlfriend Trudy (Justine Clark). But Trudy has other plans, especially when local TV celebrity Sandy Upman (Rhys Muldoon) shows interest. Danny escapes his suburban prison by blasting into the skies sitting in a deck chair tied with helium-filled balloons. But his escapade blows him far away towards the lush green village of Clarence, where he crashes into the world of Glenda (Miranda Otto), the town’s only parking cop. A change is as good as a holiday they say, and Danny gets change allright.
Review by Louise Keller:
A highly original and delightfully funny romantic comedy, Danny Deckchair just goes to show that dreams do have wings and love can sometimes fall out of the sky. Jeff Balsmeyer’s innovative and wonderfully written story is about a man who believes he is a nobody until an act of desperate madness leads him to find his own little piece of sky. While the story is set in Australia and captures the camaraderie of the locals, in fact it’s universal in appeal, and focuses on finding the right jigsaw into which your unique little piece will fit. Rhys Ifans makes a surprisingly appealing romantic lead, starting as a scruffy, deadbeat of a cement truck driver who less than satisfies the ambitious aspirations of his attention-seeking girlfriend. He begins as an eccentric caricature, as he makes his not so silent plea for help at the weekend barbie. In fact, he makes a very convincing Aussie, with his toned down English accent making Australian vowel sounds with great authenticity, and blending in beautifully with the local actors. But what begins as a peaceful flight into the heavens (past the city skyscrapers and heading towards the tranquil countryside), turns into an event-filled escapade right in the midst of a thunderstorm and the Macademia Festival fireworks. Clothes maketh the man goes the saying and Danny’s Professor Daniels is a smooth-shaven, hunk of a ladies man who learns that although some things that may seem little, they are in fact the all-important big things in life. Miranda Otto’s Glenda goes from stodgy, purse-lipped parking attendant to the belle of the ball, letting her hair down in every sense of the word. Otto is lovely in the role and we warm to her transformation and hypnotically alluring deep-throated chuckle. Everything works and the most unlikely of romantic moments at the end of the film is guaranteed to bring a lump to your throat and a little tear to your eye. This is a laugh-out-loud comedy, filled with visual gags, slapstick and inventive humour. Stage actress/singer Justine Clarke is perfect as the go-getter gal who uses all her talents (including those set up by the wonder-bra) and thrives on the media attention, and all the cast is terrific. The NSW countryside of Bellingen is beautifully shot, and is a stark contrast to Danny’s brick suburban surrounds. Like Danny, we are eager to embrace the genuine warmth of the locals. Blast off for a wildly entertaining and unexpectedly funny romp with Danny Deckchair.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
In Siam Sunset, the big trigger for the story is a fridge falling out of the sky and landing on Perry’s wife. In Danny Deckchair, it’s a deckchair-borne Danny that is catapulted into the sky, landing on his future love interest’s backyard tree. Many around me at the preview laughed out loud several times, so I felt a bit churlish. Even though I enjoyed the film, a nagging doubt kept my endorphins in check. I finally pinpointed the cause of my resistance: Rhys Ifans. I’d found myself resisting him when he worked with Miranda Otto on a previous occasion, in Human Nature. On that occasion he didn’t require much by way of masculine chemistry, but this time he’s in a different sort of romantic comedy and needs oodles of it. His lack of same reduces the film’s effect on me, even though I do agree with Louise on this, that it’s an inventive script and a well structured film. Another cause of my reserve is the film’s style in Extra Large size. Yes, I know romantic comedies can handle a bit of larger than life pushing, but for me, the larger they are, the weaker they are. My kinda comedies, whether romantic or otherwise, are those that stay truer to life size actions and reactions. I love the coldness of life’s cuts of bad luck to feel like a steel blade, not like a plastic spoon. So male star and oversize style aside, the film has merit; I don’t mean to seem flippant, because there are many good elements in Danny Deckchair, including Martin McGrath’s excellent camerawork, some really seamless effects and consistently well used music. And there is Miranda Otto in a performance that allows her to go from hard nosed parking officer to vulnerable young woman falling in love, without getting soppy.
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DANNY DECKCHAIR (PG)
CAST: Rhys Ifans, Miranda Otto, Justine Clarke, Rhys Muldoon, John Batchelor, Jane Ruggiero, Dina Gillespie, Darren Kehole, Angus King, Michelle Boyle.
PRODUCER: Andrew Mason
DIRECTOR: Jeff Balsmeyer
SCRIPT: Jeff Balsmeyer
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Martin McGrath
EDITOR: Suresh Ayyar
MUSIC: Plan 9 (David Donaldson, Janet Roddick, Steve Roche)
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Kim Buddee
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 31, 2003
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: December 10, 2003