The Castle


The Kerrigans are simple folk who reside on the outskirts of Melbourne. How simple? They live right next to an airport runway—and they like it! Not just simple, but kooky too. Every family member is a shtick figure: narrator Dale is deadpan and dopey; brother Steve scours classified ads for bargains; sister Tracey is a hairdresser with bad hair;
another brother, Wayne, is doing time for armed robbery and not much of a talker; Mom smiles, makes hideous craft objects, and cooks bland food; Dad, a home-improvement nut, raises greyhounds, likes speedboats, and is consistently bowled over by Mom’s bland food.

The Ealing/Disney/Capra plot is set in motion by an eviction notice (the airport is expanding). And so, the everyman against the Man, a man’s home is his et cetera, geddit? Miramax coughed up $6 million for this bit of nonsense, which, incredibly, took four people (director Rob Sitch included) to write. The screenplay’s favorite comic strategy is repetition—every gag, however feeble, boomerangs right back at you. Beneath the snide-but-jolly veneer, there are larger problems. The movie’s attitude toward the working class stops just short of contempt, its idea of social comment is pathetic (“I’m starting to understand how the Aborigines feel”), and it’s not above racist gibes (a Lebanese neighbor refers to bombs—twice, naturally). Like too many Aussie kitschfests, The Castle is transparently
opportunistic—the tone starts out more mocking than affectionate, but an avalanche of gooey sentiment arrives on cue to make sure you end up rooting for the poor fools.
Sorry, not an option.

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