Darryl Kerrigan is a man of principle.
That’s how his wife Sal (Anne Tenney) describes him and how he won her over. It’s also why he refuses to give up his house to the government for airport expansion in The Castle (Miramax), an Australian comedy that follows Darryl as he remains committed to his principles.
Darryl (Michael Caton) is a middle-aged tow truck driver and the father of four. Darryl is content with his life although he is not well-educated, his children are underachievers and his modest house sits next to a major international airport. For example, he takes pride in his daughter’s graduation from a hair-styling school.
Darryl doesn’t want compensation from the government for taking his property, despite his mediocre lot in life. But he does feel his constitutional rights are being violated. After crude attempts to fight the wealthy and powerful, Darryl realizes he must fight “by the book” and takes the airport company to court. What results is a charming, hilarious battle between principle and power.
Darryl’s youngest son, Dale (Stephen Curry), narrates the film. Darryl’s character is well developed and almost allegorical in its representation of sentimental value for land. He will not allow wealthy expansionist giants to treat his land as a meaningless piece of trash. He explains it is not just his house at stake but also the home it represents. His home was created by the love that permeates throughout his family-that love even includes Darryl’s son, who is in jail. Darryl feels his home, his castle, cannot be separated from the land.
Darryl’s staunch fight for his beliefs is refreshing in today’s world where land is not held as sacred and moving is common. For all his sublime thoughts on the matter, it is hard to imagine Darryl as ordinary. But several amusing moments in the film prove otherwise. In one scene, Darryl insists his friend Dennis Desnuto (Tiriel Mora), a lawyer not trained in constitutional law, take the case. Darryl feels Dennis has been quite successful despite his failing miserably in the first case against the army of lawyers representing the airport.
The movie marks the directorial debut of Rob Sitch. Sitch should be commended for his work. He uses creative camera angles to accentuate the comedic scenes.
The film’s appeal lies in its characters and dialogue. It is thankfully lacking in distasteful cheap shots that try to pass as humor. Instead, consistent comedic themes combine with crisp dialogue that guarantees a theater filled with laughter. The characters are charming in their simplicity, quirkiness and wit.
The Castle, to put it bluntly, is a great movie. It leaves audiences laughing and admiring its message.