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Danny Deckchair - DVD Review

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I hear many people describing Danny Deckchair as the true story of the guy who tied balloons to his lawn chair and soared into the crosshairs of the FAA radar before ultimately landing on the Darwin Awards scorecard. This is a bit unfortunate in several respects. First of all, saying that Danny Deckchair is based on a true story is a bit like saying Michael Moore makes unbiased documentaries. Secondly, Danny's (Rhys Ifans) high-flying stunt in a balloon-powered aluminum chair is actually only a small part of this pleasantly charming little tale.

Sad sack concrete worker Danny Morgan stumbles through life working for the weekend and looking forward to his upcoming weeklong vacation. However, his holiday plans are dashed when his fame-seeking, two-timing girlfriend Trudy (Justine Clark), who sees Danny as nothing more than "one of the little people," informs him that her work duties will cause them to miss their planned holiday camping trip.

As he suspected, Danny discovers that Trudy is not busy at work after all. Rather, she's involved with the cocksure local sportscaster Sandy Upman (Rhys Muldoon). (Could this possibly be the first film ever that stars two actors named Rhys?) Finding his life spiraling to even greater depths, Danny follows through with a harebrained plan aimed at escaping his sorry excuse of a life. During a friendly neighborhood barbecue, he ties a wad of balloons to a lawn chair and later finds himself crash-landing halfway across the Australian continent into the backyard of a lonely meter maid named Glenda (Miranda Otto).

While his friends and the media in his hometown scramble over his disappearance, Danny finds love, solace and a new identity in the newfound quaint little town of Clarence. It seems Glenda is equally dispirited and career-confused, so naturally she takes an immediate but apprehensive liking to Danny. But predictably, Danny's true identity is eventually discovered, forcing him to either return home, or explore the opportunities presented by his chance to start over.

Although a bit of character rounding-out is achieved by several little sub-plots that play alongside Danny's adventures, neither really adds much depth of story. One involves an election in his newly adopted hometown of Clarence. Danny is appointed as campaign manager for one of the candidates, giving him a sense of purpose and allowing him to, for the first time in his life, feel useful. Another involves Trudy's affair with Sandy Upman. In a bit of an industry jab at high-profile anchormen, we see that Sandy's interests with Trudy lie just below the surface of her clothes as he uses her for easy access to information about Danny so that he can be first with any breaking news about the unexplained absence.

The acting performances are adequate but never sensational save for the display of Miranda Otto. She has the same aura of appeal, both physical and ethereal, that surrounds Julianne Moore. She made me truly care for her character and convinced me of the inner-conflict that might be encountered by someone overcome with the emotions of having love literally fall out of the sky.

Much like 2003's Radio, there's not a lot to rant and rave about with Danny Deckchair but neither is it easy to take offense to its touching subject matter and kind-hearted message. It's a bit too predictable and not necessarily a momentous piece of filmmaking, but its story plays out in a delightfully entertaining fairy tale-like fashion. It touches on the inspiration of Calendar Girls and flirts with the magical whimsy of Big Fish, but ultimately it reaches the significance of neither.


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen 1.85:1

Subtitles: English; Spanish; Closed Captioned

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1; English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; director's commentary; featurette.

* Commentary:
o With director Jeff Balsmeyer and actor Rhys Ifans

Number of discs: 1

Packaging: Keep case


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