Film Reviews


By • Aug 11th, 2004 •

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Running time — 100 minutes / No MPAA rating

QUOTE: It’s no “Without a Paddle” but 100 minutes of my life was blown away.

The first we see of Danny (Rhys Ifans) he has fallen into a vat of cement. It’s not his first time. He is a mess. His hair is stringy and over-bleached. His longish beard is dangerously unkempt. He can’t stay alone in the house because he throws everything on the floor. He is defiantly lackadaisical yet has a feisty wife Trudy (Justine Clarke) who wants to make something of their lives. He wants to go camping and watch the sun set.

One afternoon Danny decides to blow up weather balloons with helium, attach them to a deckchair, and see where the wind takes him. He becomes an Australian sensation as he goes missing and the entire nation sits enthralled. Where is Danny? His wife becomes a national celebrity. She’s being followed everywhere. She’s on TV every night pleading with the nation to find Danny.

What happens to Danny? He crashes in a tree in a small town filled with simple-minded people. Glenda Lake (Miranda Otto) is the town’s cop/meter maid and finds Danny dangling from balloon cords in her backyard. Instead of asking his name, she tells her police colleague that Danny – a total stranger who just landed in her tiny house – is one of her former college professors. The townspeople are amazed lovely Glenda indeed has a male friend. Everyone calls Danny “Professor.” He shaves, gets a gorgeous haircut, wears a well-cut suit, and starts advising people around town. Nobody asks him for I.D.

Danny offers a local politician running for Mayor against a crabby incumbent some advice: Hold a pancake breakfast for everyone. This idea is so brilliant that the politician appoints The Professor as his aide. Soon everyone wants The Professor to become Mayor. Nobody watches TV as the news of Danny’s whereabouts holds Australia spellbound.

When Glenda and her girlfriends watch Danny’s wife on TV, the newscasts never show a photo of Danny. And since no one has bothered to ask Danny any questions about himself, he goes merrily along playing The Professor. He’s oblivious to the fact that his wife and friends are worried about him. He’s enjoying being a mysterious professor without credentials
I never knew a haircut, shave, and suit could transform a man-boy into a romantic, sensitive intellectual. Writer/director Jeff Balsmeyer cannot devise an appropriate venue for the magical change in Danny. There is no drama that forces Danny to become a substantial citizen and a worthy companion to a woman. Since when does abandoning your wife, job, and friends make a good calling card?

Danny Morgan: Rhys Ifans
Glenda Lake: Miranda Otto
Trudy Dunphy: Justine Clarke
Sandy Upman: Rhys Muldoon
Pete: John Batchelor
Donna: Jane Ruggiero
Bob: Rod Zuanic

Director-screenwriter: Jeff Balsmeyer
Producer: Andrew Mason
Executive producers: Howard Baldwin, Karen Baldwin, Bill Immerman
Co-producer: Lizzie Bryant
Director of photography: Martin McGrath
Production designer: Kim Buddee
Music: Plan 9
Editor: Suresh Ayyar

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