Retro Review: The Dish

A delightful little Aussie comedy that is sure to make you giggle.

After seeing Crocodile Dundee 3 in the same week, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for another Australian comedy. But the film starred Sam Neill of “Jurassic Park” and Patrick Warburton of “Seinfeld” and the underrated live-action “Tick” television series. I have always loved Sam Neill from the time I saw him in “Omen III: The Final Conflict” from back in 1981. As for Warburton, he’s always been a comedic force of nature.

“The Dish” is set in 1969 as man is quickly trying to get a man on the moon. A lot of us here in North America probably don’t realize that Australia played a huge part in the actual moon landing.

This film’s solitary mission is to show the world that Australia was the country responsible for capturing those magic moments when Neil Armstrong stepped out of Apollo 11 and descended down onto the moon surface.

How this event was covered was that a huge dish in the middle of nowhere grasped onto the single sent from the moon lander and was able to broadcast it around the world. Cliff Buxton (Sam Neill), Ross Mitchell (Kevin Harrington), Glenn Latham (Tom Long) and Al Burnett (Patrick Warburton) were the crew who manned the mighty Parkes Dish to capture that historical event.

With such a serious topic to grasp it was so very delightful to see the
Australians bring innocence, humor, and reluctance to these historical figures. Through their humorous element we are able to understand and relate to these characters more.

The subtlety of the whole film is what makes this film a pure gem. The slow revelation of Buxton’s tortured soul, the shy innocence of Latham as he tries to get enough courage to ask out Janine, the town sweetheart, and the conflict between Mitchell and Burnett is all handled beautifully. I could really relate to Latham the most and his struggle as the youngest of the crew.

The apple of Latham’s eye, Janine, isn’t the perfect town sweetheart as she always crashes into the posts in the front of the facility. That aspect was great in fleshing her out. A lot of other films, the perfect girl always has a sour side and is portrayed as a trophy. Janine is handled here more like a Marcia Brady or Sandra Dee. It was nice to see that kind of side of this often miss-used character.

I also really liked the Dish security guard who is the brother of Janine. He is always going overboard with his job and the others wonder if he should be carrying a gun.

The humorous laid back humor of Australia is what Croc Dundee 3 really lacked and in this film it is plentiful. What a pure delight. I liked how the filmmakers made these characters funny but not buffoons. Compare this once more to Dundee 3 and you can see what makes a comedy work and what doesn’t.

This is one of the most original films about the space program and should be enjoyed by everyone. It’s a giggle-fest with a strong historical message. Well Done, Australia.

(4 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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