Danny Deckchair

Danny Deckchair is one of those quirky little comedies full of strange people and understated humor that it makes people do a double take - aren't most of these movies from England?  Rhys Ifans is Welsh, so what's he doing in Australia?  Apparently this is the Aussie version of the quirky British comedy, and it take pretty much every single element from the genre and transports it to Australia, adding in a healthy does of laid-back Australian charm.  As a movie, Danny Deckchair recycles too many familiar elements, and it is only co-stars Ifans (Once Upon a Time in the Midlands, The Shipping News) and Miranda Otto's (Close Your Eyes, The Return of the King) cute chemistry together that is worth watching.

Danny (Ifans) is a dreamer.  How do people know this?  Because writer/director Jeff Balsmeyer (The Room) says so.  Plus, he puts together a little montage of wacky experiments Danny did (stuff like making a human slingshot), much to the dismay of his longsuffering girlfriend Trudy (Justine Clarke, Japanese Story, Bootmen).  She, and everybody else, mock him for his imagination, and he feels really unappreciated.  Especially when Trudy blows off a weeklong camping trip.  Danny suspects because she has some date with Sandy Upman (Rhys Muldoon, Ladykiller), a dashing television reporter.  His latest wacky idea is to fill a bunch of balloons with helium and tie them to a chair.  It works too well, and away he goes.

He lands in the tiny town of Clarence, in the backyard of Glenda Lake (Otto).  Glenda is the type of person who is insanely gorgeous, yet still has no man.  She has given up on finding anybody, and lo and behold, this random guy literally crashes into her.  In Clarence, once Danny shaves off his scraggly beard, a handsome man emerges and he realizes that people respect him.  It's a new town, and he can start all over.  He begins a relationship with Glenda, but doesn't tell about his past.  Everybody seems to like him, which is the opposite of his life in Sydney.  Of course, because there is a huge secret of his past, there must be some confrontation when Glenda inevitably learns of it, and this is the most annoying and contrived part of Danny Deckchair.  But in the meantime, he goes about living a new life, bringing a renewed sense of vitality to the town.  Everybody is happy and Clarence is a nice small town filled with quirky characters.

Meanwhile in Sydney, Trudy is living it up with the media attention.  The search for Danny has turned into a national event, and the fame is getting to her.  Trudy is shallow, and because she gets to spend time with Sandy, and because her face is all over television, she is happy.  She searches for Danny because it gets her more airtime.  Trudy and Sandy are probably the most interesting characters, because they are so shallow.  But one of the big logical lapses in Danny Deckchair is that while this story is national, for some reason nobody shows a picture of Danny in the news, thus everyone in Clarence is in the dark.  Danny and Glenda aren't that interesting only because they are like every other couple in romantic comedies.  They fall in love despite their differences, fight over something, then eventually make up.  This is Ifans' first time out as a romantic lead, and a role different from what he usually plays.  He is not the typical handsome man (for some reason he always looks uncomfortable), but he does slip nicely into the role. 

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated PG-13 for sex-related situations.

Back to Movies