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The Dish


Reviewed by: B. Lou Goodwin
Genre: Comedy
Video: Widescreen
Audio: English
Language: English, French
Subtitle: English, French, Spanish
Length: 101 Minutes
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: 8-31-01
Studio: Warner Brothers
Commentary: None
Documentaries: None
Featurettes: None
Filmography/Biography: Yes
Interviews: None
Trailers/TV Spots: Theatrical Trailer included
Alternate/Deleted Scenes: None
Music Video: None
Other: None
Cast and Crew: Sam Neill, Tom Long, Kevin Harrington, Patrick Warburton, Genevieve Moody, Tayler Kane, Bille Brown, Roy Billing
Screenplay by: Written by: Santo Clauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy, & Rob Sitch
Produced by: Michael Hirsh
Directed By: Rob Sitch
Music: Edmund Choi
The Review: Thank god for the independent and foreign filmmakers. If it were not for these poor souls, I would begin to wonder if all comedies had been reduced to bathroom humor and sexual innuendo. I know, I know, I also enjoy a raunchy snicker occasionally but I sometimes crave an intelligent comedy that engages my mind. I hope you will agree that this movie is one of those rare gems that let you think and laugh. 'The Dish's is a quirky Australian film with an interesting plot and a subtle sense of humor. On July 20th 1969, man walked on the moon and the world as we know it changed forever. Many people can still remember huddling around the television in the living room and seeing those first steps on the moon's surface but what they don't realize is that without a remote satellite dish in Parkes, Australia, none of it would have been possible. NASA spent billions of dollars on the Apollo 11moon flight but without the giant satellite in Parkes the pictures that were viewed that day would not have been possible. 'The Dish' is based on the true facts of the events that occurred at that remote station. While the world waited with baited breath, a dedicated staff of Aussies and one NASA official work around the clock to solve multiple catastrophes in secret. As you flip from the starry-eyed school kids to the gossiping social set, to the odd ball satellite crew, you will begin to love the ordinary little town of Parkes and it's inhabitants. If like me, you were too young to watch the moon landing, this will give you a chance to recapture some of that youthful awe and daring. This film is a warm, funny romp that deserves your time and attention and I hope that you will give it a chance. Although, the pacing definitely Australian and not American, the slower pace seems to suit the plot and intensify the humor. Perhaps, I would consider this film more of a humorous drama than a serious comedy but let's not argue semantics. Overall, 'The Dish' is a delightful way to spend an afternoon. I understand your hesitation about renting movies out of the mainstream but this is a sweet charmer that will inspire you to nostalgia and bring a smile to your face. Besides, you will have the popular actor Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) as a reference point in the film and although his performance was quite good, my favorite performance was by Roy Billing. Billing plays the town "mayor", Bob MacEntyre, a likable, if smarmy politician. I suggest that you keep your eye out for him in future films, he does a magnificent job of making a small part shine. Mr. Billing bears watching, I can only wonder that I have not seen him before.
Image and Sound The original Apollo 11 recordings, which are included in the film, are scratchy and distorted but the sound technician cannot be blamed. Unfortunately, a rough audio track is the drawback to realism. Modern sound tracks have higher sound quality than the tracks from the 1960's and 1970's can provide. However, the credibility that the space shuttle communications provide is invaluable to adding a layer of believability to the plot. Besides this representation of the Apollo 11 sound tracks is one of the cleanest copies of the original dialogue that I have ever heard and that, in itself, is quite an accomplishment. The rest of the audio is spotlessly recorded. Yet, the audio is not the only original 1969 feature included in the film. Much of the original television footage of the moon landing is shown in its black and white glory. The moon shots are shadowy and grainy but it gives me the feeling that I am sitting in my living room, breathless, awaiting that first step by Neil Armstrong. I think that it will give you the same breathless excitement. The rest of the scenes are a beautiful blend of color and great camera work. I think you will find the overall experience of 'The Dish' to be a worthwhile one.
The Extras

'The Dish' has very few special features. It includes the theatre trailer and the cast/director's film highlights. The theatre trailer give away a little too much of the plot and I suggest that you avoid it if possible. It will take away some of the surprise in the plot but not all of the joy in this film's viewing. The cast/director highlights are really just a listing of each major film member's movie credits and his film name. The movie credits are included for the following people: Sam Neill, Kevin Harrington, Patrick Warburton, and Rob Sitch. If you are interested increasing your knowledge of Australian actors or if you would like to catch some of these new faces is some of their other works; this is a wonderful way to do it. I do warn you that the listings are a little hard to use. You must click directly on the bold version of the person's name to receive a personalized history. Otherwise, you will be stuck on the entry screen. There are no other special features included in this film.

The music was composed and put together by Edmund Choi. It is a blend of our favorite 1960's music and some beautifully composed instrumental music that blends smoothly into the film. The instrumental music flows from the quietly patriotic to romantically wistful. I wish that the special features included a more detailed description of the music included. I especially loved the song in the end credits and I wish that I had a list with its title. The music was composed and put together by Edmund Choi. It is a blend of our favorite 1960's music and some beautifully composed instrumental music that blends smoothly into the film. The instrumental music flows from the quietly patriotic to romantically wistful. I wish that the special features included a more detailed description of the music included. I especially loved the song in the end credits and I wish that I had a list with its title.

Commentary None
Final Words:

'The Dish' shines a jewel in Australia's crown. They should be quite proud of producing this little gem. It is a film with soft humor and a strong plot. I highly recommend that you rent this movie if you enjoy independent comedies, movies about the space program, or if you would just like a few laughs. As for the families out there, this is a very clean movie. It lacks violence, nudity, and swearing plus it is faintly educational. I am so grateful for that small favor-I hope you will agree with me. This is an appropriate film for children of all ages, although many young children may miss the subtle nuances of the plot and humor. In other words, it may lose their attention. 'The Dish' has not been as thoroughly advertised as so many summer blockbusters have been but it is worth hunting up at Blockbuster. Should you buy this movie? I think so but if you have doubts then rent it first. I think you will find its blend of history and good humor to be a lasting experience that you will want to keep for your very own.


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September 5, 2001