Danny Deckchair (2003) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for language and sex-related situations
Running Time: 97 min.
Cast: Rhys Ifans, Miranda Otto, Justine Clarke, Rhys Muldoon, Anthony Phelan
Director: Jeff Balsmeyer
Screenplay: Jeff Balsmeyer
Inspired by the reportedly true story of a Southern California man named Lawnchair Larry, who, in 1982, took flight in a lawnchair lifted up to three miles into the air with several dozen weather balloons. The similarities pretty much end there, however, as Danny Deckchair is complete fiction in all other regards. It is a quirky romantic comedy in the Australian tradition, mixed with a Capra-esque feel-good formula quality that makes it nearly impossible to dislike.
Starting off in Sydney, Australia, Welsh actor Rhys Ifans (Formula 51, Little Nicky) plays Danny, a happy-go-lucky construction worker that is all set for his dream vacation of camping with his girlfriend Trudy (Clarke, Look Both Ways). However, unbeknownst to Danny, Trudy has her eyes set on the local newsman Sandy Upman (Muldoon, The Extra), and she cancels their plans in order to spend the day with him. Her excuses are found out by Danny to be lies, and with frustration with his current life, Danny plans a means of ultimate escape -- he gathers his closest friends and launches himself high into the air with weather balloons while sitting in a lawn chair. He travels high in the sky for miles before he is brought down in the backyard of a small town parking cop named Glenda (Otto, The Two Towers), with whom he immediately hits it off. He becomes something of a folk hero to the city he's left behind, while embraced by his new friends in the small town that don't know who he is.
Danny Deckchair may not be a film to set the world on fire, but it is cute and pleasant, making for easy, escapist viewing for those looking for something light and unpretentious. The cast is nicely put together, with Ifans and Otto making for a perfect oddball couple, while the typically Australian penchant for whimsical humor imbues the film with the necessary eccentricities to make it all seem fresh, funny, and quite lively. While it may not change your life, those stuck in a rut may find the message to be uplifting, quite literally, and to muster up that gumption to finally make that big move to do something about it once and for all.
©2006 Vince Leo