Ask pretty much any Aussie and they'll tell you - The Castle (1997) is an Australian cinema classic. I think everyone from the land down under can see a little bit of themselves in the Kerrigan family.
The Castle tells the story of one man's determination to stay put in his own home after receiving a compulsory acquisition notice from the government. Despite being a tad run down, surrounded by electricity towers and backing on to an airport landing strip, Darryl Kerrigan (Michael Caton) has everything he wants and needs right there at 3 Highview Crescent - his castle.
The Kerrigan's story is told through the eyes of Darryl's youngest son Dale (Stephen Curry).
Dale's voice overs introduce his family at the start, tie it all up neatly at the end, and are peppered throughout the whole movie with some of the best comic timing I've ever seen. No matter how many times I've watched this movie, I can always go another round. It is Australian comedy genius.
Of all the movies that are made each year, only a few ever truly sink their teeth in to everyday popular culture and refuse to let go. Even then, it might only be a single catchphrase that hits the nail on the head. Not so with The Castle - which has many great lines that have made their way into the Australian vernacular. Any Aussie that doesn't know what room the truly special gifts go in, or appreciate the serenity of a clear night with a bug zapper in the background should think long and hard about revoking their own citizenship. I wonder how many times the line 'tell him he's dreaming' is used around Australia every single day? Or how many times 'it's just the vibe' is used to explain the unexplainable? As for the song 'We're Going To Bonnie Doon'?... well, if it replaced Advance Australia Fair as the national anthem I think a lot more Aussies would know the second verse better than they do now, that's for sure.
Darryl enlists the services of Dennis Denuto (Tiriel Mora), a waaay out of his league small time lawyer, to take on the big guns in the hope of having the compulsory acquisition overturned. They fail miserably. But a chance meeting with retired QC Lawrence Hammill (Charles 'Bud' Tingwell) - or Lawrie/Loz as Darryl calls him - breathes new life into the court case.
Meanwhile, Darryl's wife Sal (Anne Tenney) cooks up homestyle dinner bonanzas night after night; Dale outdoes himself by digging another hole; middle son Steve (Anthony Simcoe) considers making an offer on a pair of jousting sticks from the Trading Post and daughter Tracey (Sophie Lee) returns from her honeymoon in Thailand with her kickboxing-obsessed husband Con (Eric Bana). The only blight on the Kerrigan's family story is that eldest son Wayne (Wayne Hope) is temporarily AWOL... in prison. Dale visits him often, and takes him Tracey's gift from Thailand - an elephant statue. 'Elephants are good luck, especially if their trunk is up. And his trunk was up.' - Dale Kerrigan
They may be simple, but the Kerrigans have got their shiitake mushrooms all sorted, and their priorities in the right place. As human beings I think we're all hardwired to always be striving for something more, something bigger, something better. People like Darryl Kerrigan teach us to remember what's important in life, and the value of true contentment. And it's a frigging funny movie!