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The Dish

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 imagination?

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 the dish.

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.

Editor's Note:

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.

the Dish
Rated: PG-13
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.

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