Where were you when man first walked on the moon?
Were you eagerly hunched in front of the television with Uncle Herbert and
Smelly Cousin Ethel? Sitting in class with Mrs. Crabtree, trying to see the
screen over Martha Gilbert's poofy hair? Drunk in a bar telling anyone who'd
listen that "NASA asked me to go, but I just didn't have the time."
Or, like me, were you not even a glimmer of possibility in your parent's
Whatever the case, odds are you remember that moment like it was yesterday -
unless you didn't exist. And one thing you may not have been aware of is
that the images you saw that fateful day, or in history class a few years
later, were brought to you by a tiny little radio telescope in the middle of
a sheep field in Australia.
Once again it is left to motion pictures to educate the youth of today, this
time by telling this surprisingly humorous and happy little tale in the new
movie from Down Under, The Dish.
The Dish is a delightful little flick. Not truly deep, not truly brilliant,
but a well-crafted tale that brings the small town of Parkes, Australia to
life. The strength of the film is in the characters in the town: The simple
and practical Mayor caught up in the hype, his overly-eager assistant, the
gossip-mongers and shop keepers. The sheep. And, of course, the staff at
Sam Neill plays the leader of the dish staff. Seinfeld's Patrick Warburton
(who is desperately trying to shed the label of 'Seinfeld's Patrick
Warburton') is the NASA egghead assigned to the dish. A bunch of Australian
people play a bunch of Australian people who work at the dish. Everyone is
genuine, warm and fuzzy. You'd like to sit down to dinner with these folk
and share a vegemite sandwich. The sheep tend to play themselves.
Truth told there are no villains in this movie. Some of the characters deal
with personal loss, others with personal growth. But most of the conflict
comes from the very real events surrounding the trials and tribulations that
surrounded this poor little outpost in the middle of a sheep field. Mother
Nature plays the main villain, not always co-operating with everyone's
wishes, and just being an all-around nuisance. The sheep are never a bother.
In the end (surprise surprise), human courage and bravery provides us with
the immortal images of Neil Armstrong stirring up the dust. Which, in my
book, was a bit of a cop-out. I mean how cool would it have been if the
movie ends in disaster and the broadcast was a complete and utter failure.
That would have been much more realistic. After all, that's what actually
happened, which is why they had to cut to a studio in Burbank where they went
ahead and faked the lunar landing. I mean come on, you don't believe those
pictures, do you? Didn't it ever bother you that in that one moment, in that
one shot of Armstrong on the moon, he's suddenly a six-foot black man?
Always struck me as suspicious.
In the end, though it's plagued with the usual historical inaccuracies which
have been force-fed to a gullible public for the last thirty years, The Dish
remains a delightful little film, one that will make you smile, giggle, and
feel amazingly proud to be an Earthling.
I'm giving The Dish 3 2/3 Babylons. This baby's the best import from
Australia since Crocodile Dundee. Could have used more sheep, though.
I just did a search on "Sheep" on the Brunching Shuttlecocks site and four
out of the six results were SMC reviews. I mentioned this to the SMC and he
said that he wasn't aware that sheep love was a crime, but I think it is.
Directed By: Rob Sitch
Starring: San Neill, Patrick Warburton, Kevin Harrington, Tom Long, Tayler
Kane, and Eliza Szonert - who is a total hottie and would have a huge future
in Hollywood if her last name wasn't Szonert. Oh, and the sheep. Can't
forget the sheep.