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THE DISH (PG-13)
Working Dog/Warner Bros.
Official Site
Director: Rob Sitch
Producers: Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy, Rob Sitch
Written by: Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy, Rob Sitch
Cast: Sam Neill, Kevin Harrington, Tom Long, Patrick Warburton, Genevieve Mooy, Roy Billing

Rating: out of 5


Aahhhh. The Dish inspires that sort of reaction in its audience. Sit back. Relax. Weíre going to do a bit of a show. A show that features Sam Neill and rising star Patrick Warburton, but that comes across as a pleasant afternoon spent with good (if no longer young) friends. Unrepentant cynics should probably stay away form this one, since the nostalgia and small-town sensibility, with a New Zealand twist, that make this movie so likeable that it will probably give them fits. Those merely leery of Hollywood tripe, however, should give this one a try.

As everyone knows by now, the story concerns a gigantic satellite dish in New Zealand that becomes part of the Apollo mission to the moon, and the excitement that results. Sam Neill does a wonderful job as the quietly conflicted Cliff Buxton, the director of the dish facility who must step up to the challenge that NASA offers him. Yes, this is a love-note to NASA, but Patrick Warburton, as NASA man Al Burnett, makes us resent those annoying Americans just as much as the rest of the world seems to most of the time.

Scratch all that. Frankly, Iím embarrassed by how much I like this movie. I saw it at the end of the Sundance Film Festival after seeing a slew of exciting and challenging independent films, and loving THE DISH like I do feels like a betrayal of all that. Nonetheless, I canít recommend it more highly. Every character rings true, in all of the awkwardness and confusion and true connection that people who really know each other share. When it was over, I just wanted to pop off to the pub with the boys from the dish (but not too late so their wives wouldnít mind). Roy Billing, as the awkward mayor caught up in international attention, does an especially good job here.

Like so many others, I grew up wanting to be an astronaut, and though Iíve moved on to other goals, part of me still dreams of that experience. This movie took me there, not because it showed astronauts like MISSION TO MARS, but because everyone in THE DISH believes in going to the moon, just like I do.

Take a date. Take your family. Take someone youíve had an argument with and canít speak to but might get out to a movie. THE DISH is a sweet breath of air that never plays with your emotionsóit just lets you feel them.

óReed Oliver

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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