Entertainment Monday: The Dish (January 11, 2016) Spoilers Included
The Dish is a movie that I received as a gift from Carlyn Girl. The film focuses on the roll the small rural town of Parkes played in the 1969 Apollo Moon Landing, when their satellite dish was responsible for delivering the pictures of Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon.
The Dish while based on real life events is a dramedy of sorts, where a small crew of five men essentially run the Parkes satellite dish and encounter a few challenges along the way to the successful completion of their historic mission. There are some status quo kind of plot lines in the film as Sam Neill's character, Cliff Buxton (who is the man in charge at Parkes) is getting over the passing of his wife a year earlier, and kind of gets the silent, "we know what you're going through but aren't going to mention it" treatment throughout the film, so that you wonder a bit about what happened to his wife until the moment later on in the movie when he reveals the tragedy to Patrick Warburtan's character Al Burnett, who has been sent from NASA to help run the small operation in Parkes. Another minor plot line to bring some humor to the story is the inability of one of the crew members, Cameron played by Billy Mitchell, to ask out the girl he likes who visits the group regularly at the Dish bringing everyone lunch each day.
There is resentment by some of the Parkes crew regarding Burnett's roll considering he was brought in especially to overlook their operations for the Moon Landing Mission. The tension that exists is something of a subplot too, but not as effectively developed as some of the other side plots.
The main issue arises when Parkes has a power surge and the crew at the antenna lose contact with the Apollo crew for a while. Buxton ends up lying to NASA about the mishap to try and buy his group some time to correct the issue. Burnett later exacerbates the lie when he speaks to NASA and refuses to admit that the Parkes crew was responsible for losing contact because they never pumped the primer for their back up generator prior to the power surge. The issues of crew member tension with Burnett are resolved when he willingly covers for their mistake. Thankfully they are able to find contact again with the Apollo mission and regain contact just in time to keep their lies to NASA a secret and set things up as planned for moon landing.
Unfortunately a devastating and unusual wind storm with 50 knot gusts strikes Parkes on the day that Armstrong is scheduled to do his moon walk. Despite the risks to the crew, Buxton gets their full support in positioning the satellite so that they can record the historic moon landing. In spite of Buxton's concerns, everything goes off without a hitch and the town of Parkes is able to celebrate their roll in recording the event for the whole world to see.
I liked that the movie was light in nature and it gives you a good feeling about the small town pride felt in playing an important albeit under-rated and under advertised roll in the Apollo Moon Landing. The acting is good and their really is no villain to speak of and that is part of what makes the movie a very believable account of a real life event. The humor is not roll on the floor funny, but there are several moments that make you chuckle or smile in a folksy sort of way that fits right in with the small town feel generated by the people of Parkes.
As a lover of history, what I liked most about the film was learning about a big part of the Apollo Moon Landing mission that I did not previously know about or had only heard about in passing and forgotten. It makes you realize just how much collaboration was necessary with other people and another country in a mission that I typical always associate solely with the United States.
The Dish is a great family movie that you can watch and enjoy with your kids and their is the added benefit of learning a bit about history too.