Danny Deckchair is an unchallenging romantic comedy that begins with its quirky character's balloon-and-chair experiment but never flies as high as the film's leading man. Writer/director Jeff Balsmeyer injects his script with the universal desire to fit in, to be accepted despite one's obvious faults. It's familiar territory and relatively harmless, for sure, but it's also humorless and lacking in those all important grains of logical sense.
After floating out of his yard in Sydney, Danny sets down miles from home in the Aussie farming community of Clarence. He abruptly crash lands in Glenda's (Miranda Otto) backyard, and the lovely but lonely traffic cop makes excuses for her strange visitor when the townsfolk come around asking questions.
In no time flat, Danny charms the entire village while simultaneously becoming a media sensation back in Sydney. Danny's adventure lets several people play make believe for a few days. His abandoned girlfriend, Trudy (Justine Clarke), gets the attention she long thought she deserved. Meanwhile, Danny's zany ideas, which fell on deaf ears in his old home, click with his new neighbors. A pancake breakfast can't be far behind.
As if you couldn't tell by its premise, Deckchair borders on surreal but is content to stay that way. Balsmeyer bends more than a few rom-com rules to keep his daydream afloat. Clear-headed viewers not willing to wholeheartedly swallow the fairy tale romance might ask themselves why Glenda would lie to her neighbors for this stranger, who literally dropped from the sky into her life. Glenda's not exactly a witch, so why is the town so shocked that she'd have a male caller? They'd sooner believe that a guy riding a deckchair could land on her porch. Good thing one does. And how come the news reports that flood the televisions telling of Danny's disappearance fail to include any decent headshots of the missing man?
The actors aren't asked to deliver too much. Ifans comes across as subdued for what we're led to believe is an unpredictable bloke. Both leading ladies, though, are very good. Clarke's eyes sell a spark between Danny and Trudy that burned much brighter when these characters were younger pups, and Otto's the type of girl-next-door you root for when love is on the line.
Those who really take to Deckchair will appreciate it for all the things it doesn't have. There are no gratuitous sex scenes, there's very little swearing (if any), and one quick punch is dished out by Danny to Trudy's new beau. There's an entire audience out there who don't go to movies anymore because they feel Hollywood has strayed too far from telling a sweet story with likable characters and a happy, but predictable, ending. Deckchair welcomes that crowd back to theaters, and awaits their return with open arms.
Look ma, top of the world!
Run time: 100 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 31st July 2003
Distributed by: Lions Gate Films
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Fresh: 42 Rotten: 35
IMDB: 6.8 / 10
Director: Jeff Balsmeyer
Producer: Andrew Mason
Screenwriter: Jeff Balsmeyer
Starring: Rhys Ifans as Danny Morgan, Miranda Otto as Glenda Lake, Justine Clarke as Trudy Dunphy, Rhys Muldoon as Sandy Upman, John Batchelor as Pete, Alan Flower as Ray Vitali, Julie Sobotta as Kate (as Jules Sobotta), Brian Langsworth as Real Estate Agent, Steve Rassios as Real Estate Agent (as Steven Rassios), Madeleine James as Real Estate Agent, Jane Ruggiero as Donna, Gina Bortolin as Helen Costas, Duncan Young as Phil Stubbs, Garrie Scott as Party Shop Assistant, Richard Johnson as Passerby, Dina Gillespie as Kaz, Rod Zuanic as Bob, Ross Perrelli as Young Bobby, Victoria Nucifora as Young Lisa, Gyton Grantley as Stuey, Amie McKenna as Tina, Colin Angus as Elderly Neighbour, Yanna Black as Police Operator, Maeve Byrne as Police Operator, Peter Eyers as Police Operator, Victoria Karozis as Police Officer, Paul Wilson as Air Traffic Controller, Danny Nash as Air Traffic Controller, Keith Agius as Police Officer, Andrew Crabbe as Reporter - Kevin, Richard Healy as Reporter - Wiry, Sean McKenzie as Reporter - Matt, Peter Cook as Reporter - Troy, Anthony Phelan as Jim Craig, Nadia Townsend as Linda Craig, Alex Mann as Sandra Craig, Maggie Dence as Meredith Butcher, Frank Magree as Sergeant Dave, Peter Fisher as Fire Captain Robbo, Jack Carty as UFO Teenager, Michelle Boyle as Louella, Phillip Monoghan as Fireman, Jane Beddows as Regina Carter, Jasmina Singh as Indian Sister, Rajpreet Singh as Indian Sister, Paviterjeet Singh as Indian Sister, Michelle Collins as Checkout Lady, Michelle Collins as Checkout Lady, Lester Morris as Mr. Potts, Shar Grover as Bus Stop Woman, Jeanette Cronin as Maggie Pike, Nick Holland as In the Morning Presenter (as Nick Holland), Marie Patane as In the Morning Presenter, Stephen Holt as Nobbie Furco, Angus King as Darren Kehole, Simon Mills as Old Codger, Tassa Behan as Teenager, Karen Pang as Sonya Tims, Kathryn Dagher as Debby Lleyton, Michael Barnacoat as Dick Lleyton, Martin Lewis as Macadamia Ball Man, Rohan Seinor as Macadamia Ball Man, Guy Leslie as Brownie, Nino Alessi as Wazza, Todd Hodgson as Simo, Dane Carson as Newsreader, Amanda Wenban as Newsreader, Julia Zemiro as Effusive Woman, Lloyd Thomas as Reporter, Stephen Hobb as Polesitter, Warwick Moss as Wing Commander Matthews, Ken Porter as Howard the Boss, Owen Buik as Cement Man, David McCubbin as News Director, Serge Cockburn as Max Pike, William David Thompson as John Purchie, Pam Singh as Indian Mother, Leanna Brockenshire as Aus 11 Receptionist (as Leanne Brockenshire), Paul Eden as Aus 11 Cameraman, Peter Franks as Helicopter Pilot, Leon Fryer as Reporter
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