A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
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What's the story?
In order to broadcast images of the historic first moon landing back to the 300 million people who would be watching, NASA needed access to the world's biggest satellite dish, which happened to be in the middle of a sheep paddock in remote Parkes, Australia. Thus begins this story, as NASA scientist Al Burnett (Patrick Warburton) is sent to Parkes to handle the broadcast. At first, Burnett and the three on-site engineers are suspicious of each other. Benign leader Cliff Buxton (Sam Neill), temperamental "Mitch" Mitchell (Kevin Harrington) and shy Glenn Latham (Tom Long) are thrilled about being a part of the incredible adventure of a trip to the moon. But they are also shaken by the responsibility. The town of Parkes is also a little overwhelmed by the visibility. All of a sudden, a town no one ever paid any attention to is being visited by dignitaries and the press, and that creates opportunities for all kinds of upheaval. But the real problem arises when Parkes, selected as the site for the dish because of its stable weather conditions, is subjected to high winds just at the time its position needs to be most precisely calibrated.
Is it any good?
This delightful "dish" is delicious. The movie features dozens of sharply but observed moments and delightfully quirky characters, including a dim security guard, a military-obsessed teenager with a crush on the mayor's daughter, and the engineers themselves.
Warburton is sheer pleasure to watch as the straight-laced NASA representative. Tom Long is marvelous as an engineer who can catch the errors in the NASA specifications but who can never quite get up the nerve to ask out the girl who delivers the sandwiches. Sam Neill gives a warm portrayal of a man who had to be reminded to be excited about the trip to the moon, but who understood that all they needed in the contract with NASA was "we agree to support the Apollo 11 mission."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the decisions that the engineers faced, including the decision to lie to NASA. Was that the right thing to do? Why or why not? What did it mean when Cliff told Glenn that "failure is never quite so frightening as regret?" Was he talking about more than one thing? Watch how the engineers respond to problems. What questions do they ask? How do they evaluate their options? How did Al and the Australians learn to trust each other?
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