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Danny Deckchair

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Danny Deckchair

Starring: Rhys Ifans, Miranda Otto
Director: Jeff Balsmeyer
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 90 Minutes
Release Date: August 2004
Genres: Comedy, Romance, Foreign

*Also starring: Justine Clarke, Rhys Muldoon, John Batchelor, Alan Flower, Julie Sobotta, Brian Langsworth, Duncan Young, Gina Bortolin

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

DANNY DECKCHAIR is a real sweetheart of an adult fairy tale from the Land Down Under. This quirky comedy is something of a NOTTING HILL meets THE LORD OF THE RINGS since it features actors NOTTING HILL's Rhys Ifans and THE LORD OF THE RINGS's Miranda Otto playing a pair of unlikely lovers. It's the type of good-spirited comedy that has the whole audience going "ohhhhhhh" in unison when their romance briefly goes astray.

Danny Morgan (Ifans) is a restless man who, with his scruffy beard and his long stringy hair, looks like a hermit. He is a bored concrete truck driver who spends most of his time stuck on Sydney's roadways, going nowhere, an apt metaphor for his marriage to Trudy (Justine Clarke). Trudy is an ambitious real estate agent, whose ambitions center on her desire to have an affair with Sandy Upman (Rhys Muldoon), a good-looking TV weatherman.

With one failed scheme after another -- like the time he tried to turn himself into a human slingshot -- Danny tries to inject a little excitement into his mundane existence. One bright idea of his, however, works beyond his wildest dreams. Attaching balloons to his deckchair (a.k.a. lawn chair), he finds that he can float, not just a little bit, but way up into the heavens where a big storm is brewing.

Danny's journey out of this world into a better one turns him into a national celebrity, which means that all of the camera crews and reporters spend their time turning Trudy into one too. "Where did he go," the reporters want to know, "and why did he do it?" This loss of her husband and the notoriety it brings makes her one of the happiest and most sought after women in the country. She is the center of attention, and she loves it.

Meanwhile up in the sky, Danny ends up descending rapidly. He drops straight into the yard and the life of Glenda Lake (Otto), a meter maid in the remote, small town of Clarence. Everyone in town knows everyone else, and everyone knows that no one likes Glenda, the town's reigning wallflower. But -- surprise -- under Danny's glow, she blossoms into a real beauty. "You scrub up well," Big Jim Craig (Anthony Phelan), Clarence's best known businessman, tells her when he sees her with makeup on and wearing a revealing dress.

With the professor in residence -- which is what Glenda tells the locals that Danny is -- the whole town begins to come alive. In the movie's funniest episode, Darren Kehole (Angus King) decides he will start posing in the nude so that the town's female artists-to-be, of which there seem to be an inordinately large number, can have something to paint. He keeps them in streams of giggles, as he attempts various poses not found in most classical paintings. The movie, which is on the PG-side of PG-13, keeps all of this very chaste and awfully cute.

Will Danny have to give up the happiness that he's found in Clarence or will his big city woes eventually engulf him again? Trust in the power of the happy ending.

DANNY DECKCHAIR runs a breezy 1:30. The film is in easy to understand Australian without the need of American subtitles. It is rated PG-13 for "sex-related situations" and would be acceptable for kids around 8 and up.

Copyright 2004 Steve Rhodes

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