Rob Sitch’s film The Castle is an Australian comedy, which delves into the lives of a stereotypical Australian family, the Kerrigans. Despite its highly credible cast line-up, and distinguished comedy writing team (including The Panel’s Santo Cilauro), it is a low budget, low quality, box-office flop.
The audience is introduced to the classic Aussie family, as narrated by the youngest of the Kerrigans, Dale. The setting is a lower class Melbourne suburb, adjacent to an airport.
The head of the Kerrigan household, Darryl Kerrigan (Michael Caton), is a simple man, but a man of incredible pride. He is a typical Aussie bloke who is adored by his family yet disregarded by society. Nonetheless, seemingly oblivious to reality, Darryl lives and rules in his own home, which he calls his castle.
Sal Kerrigan (Anne Tenney) is the classic Australian housewife, who is wholly devoted to her family, and especially her husband. Her cooking lacks sophistication of any form, yet is praised beyond any professional chef’s wildest dreams.
The Kerrigan children mirror all the somewhat deficient, aspirate characteristics of their parents. The eldest, Wayne, is in jail, but is still accepted by his family. Steve is an inventive mechanic who truly makes his father proud.
Tracey (Sophie Lee) is the only girl in the family, and as is made quite obvious, is the favourite. She is considered to be the most successful in the family, since she is the only one who has completed any form of tertiary education. Tracey is a certified hairdresser. This made her dad “mighty proud”. She was also the first to get married. Her husband, Con Petropoulous (Full Frontal’s Eric Bana), is a Greek, kickboxing accountant.
As the story unravels, the Kerrigans are faced with a major dilemma, in the form of a compulsory acquisition of their home. The land on which their house is built, is needed by the corporate giant Airlink to build the largest freight handling facility in Australia. And so the Kerrigans embark on an odyssey to save their “castle” from acquisition and consequent demolition.
This film was far from technically amazing. No special effects were notably employed, as wowing audiences with technical brilliance was not the intent of this movie. Technical indifference did result in the film appearing to have been recorded in the eighties. The need for a crisp, effective image was ignored, and the result was a second class film. Sound was fairly standard too.
Technicalities aside, there were many other opportunities for The Castle to redeem itself. However, very few of these were employed. The only commendable aspect of the film was the cast’s superior performances. Despite all “cop-outs” on Australians, the character portrayals was sardonically entertaining.
Unfortunately, the simplistic dialogue was extremely disappointing, and the scripted plot was highly predictable and unoriginal. It is quite abhorrent to think that this is the way that the Australian film industry presents itself to the rest of the world. It is movies like The Castle that give the rest of the world the impression that Australians are pathetic, uneducated, classless yobbos.
The Castle attempts to comically exploit every element of the stereotypical Australian identity, however flounders in its excessiveness. Australians would generally accept this film in good humour, and most would find it quite entertaining. It certainly lacks any form of intellectual stimulation, though a few hearty laughs may be evoked. But for those who may take this film seriously, and perceive Australians to be just as the characters in the film are, then I am truly ashamed to label myself an Australian.
Star rating: 1?