Profile: Quirky, terrific, slice-of-life/history about a satellite dish in the middle of an Australian sheep farm that receives audio and video from the Apollo 11 moon landing. Think Local Hero meets Apollo 13 meets Strictly Ballroom.
Symptoms: The day I saw this film about a defining moment in American—and world—history, people stood in long lines to see a movie about another one: Pearl Harbor. The people in that line waited for hours and said things like, I swear, " . . . oh, that war?" I counted seven people watching The Dish. All this movie does is make you proud to be a human being, give you a renewed appreciation for the space program (I'd like to apologize to Buzz Aldrin for any arguably chippy things I've written about him in the past. Well done, my friend!), and remind you of the power of wonder, optimism and courage. Seven people.
Diagnosis: Makers of The Dish created a film that affirms life—a film that is funny, heartwarming and genuine, accomplishing all that with nary an explosion, computer-generated (CG) effect or Ben Affleck. Poor bastards never had a chance.
Prescription: This movie's single problem is getting people to see it. So, first, ditch The Dish's sheep-laden poster and print ad. True, sheep receive a lot of recognition at Cannes and Roman Polanski's place, but they don't sell tickets. We recommend a poster and print ad that is more active: exploding rockets, exploding Richard Nixon and a really beautiful naked chick seen through a keyhole, getting into a steamy bath—perhaps with several sticks of dynamite strapped to her ass. Okay, now the trailer. Movie trailers today have nothing to do with what the movie is actually about. You'd think from Pearl Harbor's trailer that the surprise attack and Cuba Gooding Jr. are major components of the film. In fact, the battle lasts barely a fifth of the film and Gooding Jr. is onscreen about 10 minutes. Okay, so we open the trailer with some guy with a deep, slightly edgy voice saying, "IN A WORLD . . . ." After that, no one will be listening anyway because they know now is the time for the building quasi-gothic music and the quick-cut scenes. So cue music and quick cut to the dish, quick cut to Japanese Zero dropping bomb on dish, quick cut to Nixon getting into steamy bath, quick cut to Demi Moore with one tear streaming down her face, quick cut to astronaut standing behind sheep, quick cut to Ben Affleck as sheep (cg), quick cut to Ben Affleck as sheep with astronaut standing behind him as dish explodes saying, "I see dead people." But funny.