Aggressively Aussie

The insanely happy Kerrigan family finds delight where others would find horror. This lovey-dovey Australian crew lives in a house perched atop a toxic landfill, situated next to a deafening airport runway overseen by looming electrical-power poles. The proud patriarch, Darryl (Michael Caton), a tow-truck driver, waxes enthusiastic about his fake chimney, his pet greyhounds and his hairdresser daughter's horrid hairdo. In his incurably optimistic eyes, he is living a charmed life in the perfect abode, and nobody is going to take it away from him. Not even the government, which orders him to sell his home to make way for an expanded airport.

"The Castle" is further proof that the Aussies love to make affectionate fun of the tackiest aspects of their culture. (Remember "Strictly Ballroom"?) This modest little comedy, tossed off in 11 days by director Rob Sitch, became the country's biggest-grossing film of 1997. While it obviously struck a deep chord in its homeland, here it's not much more than a light tap on the funny bone. The irrepressibly tacky Kerrigans make an amusing first impression, but the movie essentially has only one joke to offer: the family's beaming pride in every appalling detail of their lives.

The Castle-Miramax. Opens May 7.

Aggressively Aussie | News