The Dish

The guys in The Dish may not have the right stuff, but they sure come close. The Dish is a new Australian comedy based on actual events set during the Apollo Moon landing. Since this is an Australian comedy, one can expect quirky people and strange humor, but The Dish is more accessible than some of the other, more esoteric movies. This is because the Moon landing plays a large part in the movie, giving a point of reference that everybody can relate to. It is a charming, witty story, and extremely enjoyable to watch. Parkes, Australia earns its place in history when problems across the world cause it to become the station that broadcasts the Moon landing for the world to see.

Parkes is participating in the Apollo mission because it has the largest satellite dish in the Southern Hemisphere. It will serve as a relay station for the astronauts and NASA. NASA sent Al Burnett (Patrick Warburton, The Emperor's New Groove, Scream 3) to Parkes to help supervise the mission. Signs of Warburton's Puddy role from Seinfeld emerge in his voice, which really helps his role. The Australians view him as an interloper, someone who came to take charge. They think he does not think much of them. Cliff Buxton (Sam Neill, Bicentennial Man, The Horse Whisperer) may think so also, but he isn't saying anything. He is in charge of Parkes, and is a quiet, thoughtful man. The other employees are Ross Mitchell (Kevin Harrington, My Second Car), Glenn Latham (Tom Long, Risk, Strange Planet), and procedure-happy guard Rudi Kellerman (Tayler Kane, Queen of the Damned).

The conflicts don't last long, because underneath everything, these men are all they same. They have a love for space, and all want the mission to succeed. They are incredibly smart people, yet ordinary in many ways. Glenn can calculate complex physics equations with a slide rule, but cannot muster up the courage to ask out the girl he likes. The Dish shines every time somebody speaks. The jokes are genuinely funny, and all good-natured. There are four credited writers here; director Rob Sitch, Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner (all from The Castle), and Jane Kennedy. Usually, additional writers dilute the quality of the script, but the opposite happens here. Everybody merrily quips their way through the movie, in sort of a male bonding fashion. Many minor characters that do nothing except one odd trait, but they all sort of gel together to form a cohesive whole.

For all of The Dish's loony tone, it becomes reverential when dealing with the Apollo mission. There is something awe-inspiring about the entire affair, and Sitch and company successfully convey the wonder felt by literally the entire world. Also included are actual newscasts from the era (and a hilarious series of fake ones), scenes from the lunar landing, and many of the radio transmissions from Armstrong to NASA. Still, Sitch throws in some zany situations, and manages to make the odd and the serious mesh. The Dish is funny, and so few films these days are. That is reason enough to watch it.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 41 minutes, Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.

Back to Movies