The Dish | Chicago Reader

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A pleasant if cloying comedy (2000) inspired by the true story of a small Australian community's contribution to the Apollo 11 mission. The bucolic town of Parkes, home to the southern hemisphere's largest radio telescope, is thrown into a frenzy when NASA selects it as a backup communications post for the moon landing, only to find itself serving as the primary relay station during the mission's crucial hours. The locals, a bunch of endearing bumpkins, prepare to impress the visiting dignitaries, while the telescope's colorful Aussie scientists, led by fatherly Sam Neill, deal with a series of technical snafus just hours before they're scheduled to broadcast the moon walk to the world. The story is completely predictable, straining to create a sense of wonder and serving up only schmaltz, yet the film sustains a certain charm thanks to enjoyable performances (especially Patrick Warburton's turn as a stone-faced NASA consultant) and Graeme Wood's fine cinematography. Directed by Rob Sitch (The Castle); with Roy Billing, John McMartin, and Eliza Szonert. PG-13, 104 min.

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