THE DISH THE DISH THE DISH
directed by Rob Sitch, written and produced by Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy and Sitch, with Sam Neill, Kevin Harrington, Patrick Warburton and Genevieve Mooy. 104 minutes. Produced by Working Dog productions. A Warner Brothers release. Opens Friday (March 16). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 91. Rating: NNN this is a tiny australian movie that longs to recreate the "little England" comedy of incongruity that was a specialty of England's Ealing Studios back in the 40s and 50s. That's when films like The Man In The White Suit, Passport To Pimlico and Tight Little Island made an industry of eccentricity. In The Dish, it's 1969, Neil Armstrong's about to walk on the moon, and a tiny Australian town prepares for the arrival of the American ambassador.
He's coming to visit because a gigantic radio telescope has been installed there to track Apollo 13 when it's out of the range of America's own radio telescopes.
Sam Neill is the avuncular local scientist. Seinfeld's Patrick Warburton, barely recognizable in white shirt and horn-rims, is the man from NASA.
He's here, in one local's opinion, to make sure that everything runs smoothly.
The Aussies are plainly not to be trusted with all this expensive American hardware.
The Dish, which operates on a very audience-friendly level, is calming enough to have been a gala at last fall's Toronto International Film Festival, and I just saw it again at the Miami festival.
This may be what prevents me from giving it a stronger recommendation: I have trouble imagining paying full price to see it in a theatre because it's about two steps above network television, visually speaking.
It won't lose anything if you wait till June and rent it instead.JH