The Castle - DVD Review

'as Darryl's ire that the 'law of bloody common sense' can't be used in Australian courtrooms builds, the film's righteous indignation in defence of the Australian everyman does too'

Apparently rather well-liked in its native Australia (the press material claims it as 'the most popular Australian comedy of all time') The Castle is the tale of Darryl Kerrigan's (Michael Caton) bid to stop his home being taken from him by the airport who want to turn it into 'the world's biggest driveway'. If that setup seems familiar then so will the film although director Rob Sitch isn't one to let a stock plot get in the way of a few well planned jokes.

The second half of The Castle in particular is a joy of gentle situation comedy perked up by some much-needed swearing from Caton's fantastic creation. As Darryl's ire that the 'law of bloody common sense' can't be used in Australian courtrooms builds, the film's righteous indignation in defence of the Australian everyman does too. It is support of the softly-softly kind only (there's no real moral message contained within) but the fact that The Castle puts up a strong showing for working class Australians makes it much easier to warm to, especially given that The Kerrigans, charming and family-centred, are the method through which the warmth is delivered.

The script, written by Sitch and other contributors, is full of highlights but returns to the well of repetition one too many times. Narrated by youngest son Dale (Stephen Curry) there are too many occasions when we hear something along the lines of 'he reckoned we were the luckiest family in the world' only for a character then to say 'you know what Dale, I reckon we're the luckiest family in the world'. It's funny once. It's not funny the sixth or seventh time it happens. Moments such as the discussion of Darryl's favourite television show or the well set up joke about passing notes in the courtroom keep the quota of good-to-poor jokes ticking over though and there's enough here to guarantee several chuckles before the end credits role.

Ultimately The Castle is probably a film that will improve on repeat viewings. On first watch it's too easy to be distracted by the low-budget (technically the film is awful) and occasional appearances by Eric Bana, who is by far and away the most famous component of the cast. Post-screening though, it's much easier to recall the better moments of scripting and Caton's mastery of his character. Worth checking out, especially for those bored by Hollywood's current crop of mainstream comedies.

The Castle is out on DVD in the UK on Monday 25th July 2011.

Look further...

'The movie's comic foundation is the cozy if spectacularly insular family life of the Kerrigans. They think almost as one.' - Roger Ebert, 3/4


  1. Ah, "The Castle." Nice review. I agree with you, the warmth, at a certain point, overtakes some of the more forced aspects of the humor.

    I would recommend checking out Stich's "The Dish" (if you haven't) about the Apollo 11 mission from the Australian perspective. It's another warm human comedy, but I thought several major steps up from this one. One of my favorites.

  2. I have heard of The Dish (knew it starred Sam Neill) but never seen it. Also didn't realise it was a comedy. Will definitely check it out.

  3. This is standard fare on NZ telly. Honestly it must play at least three or four times a year. God I remember this when it was released!! It is low budget but the story is its key and I think it deliverd it quite well.
    Far from my favorite Aussie film though and never really got in to it in the way so many people did.

  4. It doesn't surprise me that it's a bit of a 'cult' type film - over here it's marketed very much as 'The Australian FULL MONTY', which is of course ludicrous in many ways but I can see what they mean by way of the general aesthetic and low budget charm. Deserves to be a bit more widely seen.

  5. This film is absolutely beloved here in Australia. I suppose I can understand why it's not as popular elsewhere; it's definitely full of Aussie sensibilities and humour. Personally though, it's one of my all time favourite comedies, and my favourite local film. And it's immensely quotable!