Review: Dish, The
2.5 / 5 Stars
Based on a true story, The Dish tells the tale of a large satellite dish in rural Australia where a small group of technicians helped NASA communicate with Apollo 11 on its historic trip to the moon. Unabashedly sentimental, The Dish shows what even a small contribution can do to the self-esteem of a tiny town, and how the Apollo 11 journey was meaningful to far more than just the American public.
Starring Sam Neill as the head of the facility, this movie embraces the small town feel with a warm, cozy tone, where we soon feel like each of the staff members and townspeople is an old friend. Each person has their own small personal quirk or problem, but nothing that is ever enough for us to not like them. The group of charismatic actors play it just right, never being overly serious for a comedy, but still being determined enough for we the audience to feel a part of something truly exciting and important.
Composer Edmund Choi understood very well that his job was not to be overly adventurous with the score. This is a knowingly small film that wants to keep it simple and sweet. The soundtrack's job was to do two things: establish the era, specifically the late '60's; and evoke a warm, inspiring feeling. The first is accomplished with a steady supply of tunes from the era, such as "Get Together" by The Youngbloods and "Good Morning Starshine" by Oliver. Choi accomplishes the latter with a combination of orchestral and sometimes ethereal vocal pieces. Some of the work borders on "New Age-y", but the pieces are never out of place, given the space theme.
A criticism of the score could apply to the film as well. It is painfully predictable. The soundtrack, like the film, is very by the numbers and unsurprising. It is not just that we know Apollo 11 will make it, but we know who in the movie will get what and how. The score, similarly, holds no big surprises. However, when one goes in to a film like The Dish, such criticism seems out of place. This film is about the feeling it evokes, not about some profound message.
In conclusion, this film and soundtrack will appeal to a broad audience with its warm-hearted, inspiring, though not inspired, approach. For film snobs without any perspective, it may be tedious, but for those who like a pleasant family film without too many complications, The Dish will do just fine. The soundtrack has some good oldies for '60's music fans and a fairly extensive score for fans of the film; those outside these groups would probably want to pass on it. Though competently done, the soundtrack is far from unique.
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