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Happy Landing: Childish Aussie Crashes Into Burg in Storybook Charmer

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Danny Deckchair
Written and directed by
Jeff Balsmeyer
Lions Gate, opens August 11
While not on a par with the inspired mock-pubescent hysteria of Napoleon Dynamite, Jeff Balsmeyer's similarly binomial Danny Deckchair is that early-summer sleeper's midseason analogue: Weird, frivolous, and impossible to dislike, Danny provides an adult spin on Napoleon's underachiever triumph fantasy. Rhys Ifans plays Danny, an idle Sydney cement worker whose ambitious live-in girlfriend (Justine Clarke) has her head turned by a local sportscaster (Rhys Muldoon). Using a handy supply of balloons, a patio chair, and an abundance of childish resentment, Danny launches himself into the sky and on to an idyllic burg in Australia's Northern Rivers region. Once there, he meets his soul mate (Miranda Otto) and establishes himself as an unlikely populist philosopher. You can pretty much guess the rest, but what Balsmeyer's movie lacks in third-act unpredictability it makes up for in storybook charm, uncommon graciousness to its characters, and pitch-perfect performances; Clarke and Angus King (as a drawing class model) are particular standouts, and Ifans and Otto exhibit genuine romantic frisson. Danny Deckchair may be flyweight indie bunkum, but at this point on the calendar you could do much worse than a sweet ear of outback Capra-corn.
 
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