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IN SHORT: A very gentle Australian comedy. [Rated [R], 105 minutes ]
Take an ordinary working class guy, in the case of The Castle a tow truck driver named Darryl Kerrigan (Michael Caton). Put him up against "The System," in this case the Ozzie government who has exercised its power of Eminent Domain (called "compulsory acquisition") to condemn his house for an airport expansion. Now add Dennis, (Tiriel Mora),a shlump of a lawyer, toss in as many jokes about the family and the court plight as you can think up and you may come close to The Castle, which is a sitcom with all the innuendo removed, some [R] rating required language and Ozzie slang to taste. Oh, yeah, the main characters are dim as bulbs, but optimistic (as opposed to Cranky who is dim as a bulb and fatalistic).
The entire tale is narrated by Darryl's son Dale (Stephen Curry), who has an obsession with minute details of almost anything that comes up in ordinary conversation. Wife and mother Sally (Anne Tenney), dabbles in arts and crafts and does amazing things with exotic meals like meatloaf; jailbird son Wayne (Wayne Hope); and Steve (Anthony Simcoe) a son who prefers to read stuff like Buy and Swap to make deals. The sole college graduate is daughter Tracey (Sophie Lee), who made it through hairdressing school and married a Greek kickboxing accountant named Con (Eric Bana). All average people living average lives.
If that's not enough color for you, the house sits next to the main airport runway ("great location!") and on top of a toxic waste landfill. That last bit alone is enough to drive a stake into the heart of the story's reason for being, but it's nothing that will occur to you unless you have to think about what you've seen. The Castle is a very light entertainment which, as long as you're not expecting The Full Monty, will amuse.
The screenwriters, all four of 'em writers for Australian TV and radio, have liberally fallen on the old trick of having a character repeat what the narrator has just said, for a fast gag. This technique also means that the visual gags are described as well, which should've ticked me off, but didn't. As gentle as all the gags are, we're laughing at the characters for most of the movie in a flick that refuses to denigrate its characters. That's a good thing. It yields a very lightweight comedy that would be fitting for teevee if the language didn't get rude.
Unlike the pair of Brit flicks that I've raved about in these pages, the Australian slang in The Castle is at times incomprehensible. Not difficult enough to distract you from some gentle enjoyment but enough that you'll wonder what everybody else is laughing at if you don't get the joke.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Castle, he would have paid...
Rental level. The Castle will work fine on the telly, cuz it's gonna get creamed by the summertime blockbusters.
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