Lisa Tomasetti, Lions Gate Films
"Danny Deckchair" is an exercise in missed opportunities. This Australian comedy takes a good premise one that's based on real-life events and turns it into a tired and overly familiar sitcom.
The storytelling here is so inept that the film wears out its welcome about 15 minutes in. And like the film's main character, audiences may be tempted to drift away as well. Of course, the trip for the audience may take them to Dreamland, as they slumber through this snoozer.
The title character is Danny Morgan (Rhys Ifans), a construction worker (he claims to be a "concrete man") who's basically living for his annual holiday with live-in girlfriend Trudy (Justine Clarke).
She cancels on him at the last minute so she can have a date with a hunky local sportscaster (Rhys Muldoon). When Danny finds out, he ties a bunch of helium balloons to his favorite lawn chair and simply floats away into a cloud bank.
It seems like Danny will drift forever at least until he's "shot down" by some fireworks over the tiny town of Clarence. There, meter maid Glenda Lake (Miranda Otto) takes pity on him. (The two seem destined to become an item.)
Meantime, back home, Danny's story has been all over the news, and Trudy has been using that to become a celebrity in spite of the fact that she's not really concerned about finding out what's happened to him.
Writer-director Jeff Balsmeyer (a storyboard artist turned filmmaker) seems to have no idea what to do with this material. He has the irritating tendency of cutting short some promising gags and letting less-worthy jokes drag on past their punchlines.
His worst move, however, just might be the wrong-headed casting of Ifans. He works as a shaggy-faced goofball, but he's certainly not leading-man material. Even when he's "cleaned up," it still seems like a mismatch to have him with the luminous Otto, who is the film's strongest asset.
"Danny Deckchair" is rated PG-13 for occasional use of strong profanity, sexual innuendo and lewd dancing, a brief sex scene (done fairly discreetly), and brief scenes of violence (slapstick and fisticuffs). Running time: 95 minutes.
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