The Dish - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Dish Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ January 17, 2008
i liked it! its a nice little cute movie thats amausing in places and quite good fun movie that leaves you happy, and of course sam neill looks gorgeous as ever!!
its about the landing on the moon of neil armstrong but its about the dish that broadcasted the pictures to earth based on true events and based in australia!
A nice movie to watch light heartedly!!
Super Reviewer
January 28, 2010
Fantastic Aussie film. Full review later
Super Reviewer
½ January 31, 2009
Based on a true story Sam Neill and his team in Australia are responsible for beaming the image of Neil Armstrong's moon landing around the world.
Super Reviewer
February 20, 2007
Very good comedy-drama story of the receiving dish in Parkes, NSW that celebrates this great achievement and the Aussie battlers that made this monumental telecast possible.
Super Reviewer
June 14, 2008
How much you like this film will depend on how much you like custard. Now, custard is all very well - I've nothing against it, but not many people will list it as their favourite food. Sure it's great with vanilla or banana slices, but on its own it's simply "alright". What I'm trying to say is that this film also is very "alright", but instead of simply saying this film is "alright", I thought it better to use a custard analogy to get my point across..
Super Reviewer
½ September 9, 2007
Really enjoyable film....
Super Reviewer
June 21, 2006
I'm not sure why I love this movie so much, but I do. It's Australian, it's quiet, and it's brillantly subtle.
June 4, 2011
An enjoyable, entertaining film with an important historical story. Good film to watch with the kids.
½ June 1, 2010

This is a wonderful film that is not to be missed. I am so very glad that I bought it. There were so many times that I passed it by in the store because it is so unassuming that I was just not aware of what a little treasure it is. The movie is a highly engaging and hilarious back story to man's first lunar landing and pied-a-terre on the moon's surface--truly one of the most important cultural and scientific events in our history. It is a big bonus to have the original film footage of the moon walk by Apollo 11 astronauts seamlessly edited right into the drama. This would be a great film to show in schools. It is both informative and entertaining and the kids would love it and learn something from it. Sam Neill and Patrick Warburton are standouts among a terrific cast of lovable characters from the astronomers and engineers, to the astronauts in uniform, to all the ordinary people involved.
January 25, 2010
No, Really--Worldwide Effort

One of the arguments, though hardly the strongest, against the concept of Apollo's having been a hoax is the sheer number of people involved. People arguing for the hoax clearly don't know how many there were. Estimates, in fact, range up to 400,000, many from countries other than the United States, and that's not including all the amateur astronomers who tracked the missions from the ground. Indeed, as is shown at one point in the movie--in, admittedly, a moment which never actually happened--basically what you could do to find the Apollo capsule by radio was point at the Moon. That was what it took, and many people here on Earth did just that. There were also people in little non-NASA installations all over the world who helped in some small, unacknowledged way, names lost to history but each, in their own way, vital to one of humanity's greatest achievements to date. Every character in this movie was important to its universe's Apollo 11, and their real-world counterparts were important to ours. Worth keeping in mind, really.

Because of various orbital mechanics, of course half the Earth is pointed away from the Moon at any one time. In this particular case, that also means that the United States can't track their space missions without the help of others, specifically in this case the Parkes Observatory Radio Telescope. They are to help receive the television broadcasts from Apollo 11, something extraordinary coming to their little town and their dish in the middle, as they tell us, of a sheep paddock. They are led by Cliff Buxton (Sam Neill), an avuncular man who is clearly quite good at what he does. They have a laid-back existence there at the observatory, one where the guard's sister walks in and out, basically bringing them tea. They are a little uncomfortable with the outsider, NASA man Al Burnett (Patrick Warburton), but most people seem pleased by the attention all of this is bringing to their middle-of-nowhere little town. And, of course, there's the pure excitement of the landings.

The history of this movie is a bit dodgy. For one thing, you didn't just get stodgy Patrick Warburton; there were quite a few NASA employees down there, and what's more, there weren't really conflicts. There was no dramatic power outage, and the movie rather ignores the existence of Honeysuckle Creek, out by Canberra, less in the middle of nowhere. (Presumably fewer sheep.) Honestly, I suspect that the wackiness has been dialed up a bit as well. It makes for a better story that way. Also, the Prime Minister was, well, up at Honeysuckle Creek, probably at least in part because it's much closer. You know, being the Canberra's being the capital and all. The staff and so forth at Parkes have also been greatly reduced, mostly to give us a handful of characters with whom to connect, and at that, I honestly can't remember most of the characters' names. On the other hand, one of the most dramatic events--the wind--really did happen.

The people in this movie, however, really are charming. The American ambassador (John McMartin) is a funny guy, clearly trying hard to get along with the Australians, many of whom are made to feel more than a little provincial by the worldly Americans. For example, he's forgiving about the funniest moment in the movie, wherein the band plays a song that is not at all "The Star-Spangled Banner" while they're supposed to be playing the American national anthem. There is also more than a little awareness that the younger generation here are familiar with a world beyond anything their elders could have imagined. Apollo is just one more example of that. At one point, it is mentioned how many people around the world are expected to be tuning in for this, and most of the people having the conversation are stunned by it, the mayor's daughter, Marie (Lenka Kripac), is at least as interested--or rather thinks she ought to be in her sense of youthful rebellion--in whether or not the missions were funded by the CIA.

I choke up still, I must admit. I will be reading about the landings or watching the footage, and it just hits me. It's stunning. And the clip of Walter Cronkite just kind of taking off his glasses and dealing with his own awe for a minute kind of sums it up. Any story involving the landings must also involve that feeling. Doubtless there were people who were blasť about it, or even angry, but it must have been simply amazing. I look up at the Moon today and think, "Before I was born, people walked up there." How much more awe-inspiring must it have been to look up at the Moon and think, "People are walking up there"? And even beyond that, imagine how it must have felt to have thought, "I helped people walk up there." I have friends who are, or can be, involved in the process of getting people--and maybe women, this time--back up there, a thing I never could. But oh, it would be incredible. It's something which would stay with you your whole life, though I wonder how you'd handle its being over.
December 24, 2009
A really good movie. Peg and I watched this today while we were snowed in from the Christmas blizzard. Always liked Sam Neil plus the story was based on real events during the first moon landing. Nice little Aussie movie about the local people who lived near the a dish used to transmit the live video pictures from the moon. A good feel good movie for the whole family.
½ November 9, 2009
*** (out of four)

Fun little Australian comedy about the 1969 Moon landing and those who were in charge of taking care of the giant dish so the world will be able to watch.
½ April 21, 2008
A slow but steady drama with an outstanding cast and wonderful script. A unique and lovely look at the 1969 lunar landing.
July 24, 2007
I seem to have an attraction this week to 1960s US government-based stories being dramatised on celluloid. Following my review elsewhere on the site of "Thirteen Days", we now take a peak into the unlikely story of a small rural town in Australia which gained noteriety for beaming the pictures of Neil Armstrong on the moon in 1969.

When NASA come knocking, Mayor Bob McIntyre (Billing) is proud to announce that the world's most capable satellite dish, located in his Australian district of Parkes, will be relied upon to beam pictures of the future moonwalk around the world. The momentous task of making everything go smoothly falls to the dish site-manager, Cliff Buxton (Neill - "Jurassic Park", "The Piano", "In the Mouth of Madness"), crabby technician Mitch (Harrington) and timid mathematical scientist, Glenn (Long). Looking over their shoulder is thorough NASA representative, Al (Warburton - "Scream 3", TVs "Seinfeld"), and his attention to detail is met with resistance by Mitch.

Simmering in the background, are the personal relationships that only serve as mild distractions from the main story. Nervous Glenn can't see that pretty local girl Janine (Eliza Szonert - played Danni in Aussie soap "Neighbours") is waiting to be asked out as they play a familiar game of 'you make the first move'. Meanwhile, Cliff's pensive mention of his wife alludes to a deeper story while Mitch and Al pursue a heated battle for control and influence.

When technical problems, both man-made and caused by forces of nature, are poised to destabilise the project, it becomes clear that to the folks in Parkes the actual moonwalk takes a backseat in importance to the town's ability to show it to the world. This lends an amiable charm to a weighty moment in mankind's history, showing us that behind the unfathomable science involved in space travel, is something a little more human and down to earth.
We take this moon walk seriously you know!

The danger in regional comedies like this is that some characters will be presented with a far more pronounced stereotype than is required, leading the viewer to feel little sytmpathy and maybe general apathy to certain parts of the plot. That is not the case in "The Dish", with even the excitable Mayor McIntyre coming across as an honest and hard-working man who is fully deserving of his day in the sun. Neill plays Cliff Buxton wonderfully. Never imagining himself being part of something as large as this, Cliff takes it in his stride until the moment he realises that it might all be going wrong. He then realises that the whole undertaking is actually more important to him than he thought.

Melbourne-born Sitch directs as you might expect - a man comfortable in his surroundings, and familiar with the materials at his disposal. The script is light but entertaining, and although some angles are over-played (check out the dish security guard, Rudi, who acts like he is in the CIA), the strong mixture of humour and character make this a worth watch.
February 20, 2008
Obscure title I've never heard of...found on a whim, watched because I was bored...and was pleasantly rewarded. This movie was just great, a side of the story I've never heard of before. The characters were all just great and the acting was spot-on. My one complaint was that Sam Neill sounded a bit too British most of the time with just a bit of Aussie thrown in there from time to time. But I think he's a fantastic actor, so I'll let it slide. This movie makes me want to research the whole story of Parkes more! I recommend this movie to anybody looking for a great flick - good to watch with the family, too!
May 25, 2016
If you could define a prototypical perfect Indie movie with the most bang for your buck, I'd say this movie.
May 16, 2016
Very enjoyable. The humor is quiet and gentle, and the film is good for its historical value.
April 24, 2016
This is a delightful and mild-mannered comedy set in 1969 concerning the townsfolk of a small Australian community that became a significant player in the NASA Apollo 11 moon expedition. The town is the site of a large satellite dish that NASA needed to relay television signals from Neil Armstrong and the crew on the moon back to Earth and the millions of viewers waiting to see the historic events unfold. Sam Neil plays the head of the small radio telescope team who find themselves thrust into the spotlight. It is a gentle comedy of manners and the differences between two cultures. There are a fair number of chuckles and giggles and an interesting story to be told in this feel good movie directed by Rob Sitch. I'm not quite sure how much of the story is based in fact but the characters are all well drawn if somewhat stereotypical, the acting is sound and the script both entertaining and honest. I liked this little movie a lot for it's period feel and charm together with its gentle way of sending up and ribbing some of the more pompous elements of human nature.
January 19, 2016
Just the best movie that most Americans have never seen. Funny, historical, inspirational, funny, light hearted, clean, funny. It's a great movie. And - it's funny.
½ June 9, 2015
funny and very Aussi
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