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The Dish is an Australian comedy set in the rural town of Parkes in 1969. In the middle of a sheep farm sits its main claim to fame: a large satellite dish, over which Australia and the United States are joining forces so that the moon landing can be relayed to eager viewers across the world.
The Dish explores 1960s culture, specifically the cultural differences between Americans and Australians, whilst casting a comical eye over the people of the rural town.
- Berserk Button: Cliff's wife, although the button invokes a touching portrayal of quiet grief rather than rage.
- Can't Spit It Out: It's obvious to everyone that Glenn and Jeanine like each other, but he has trouble admitting it. Towards the end of the film, he finally summons up the courage to ask her out.
- Cultural Cringe: Tensions between the natives and the visiting Americans.
- Deadpan Snarker: Mitch under pressure.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: "Cliff, that's bullshit. You just bullshitted NASA!"
- Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Cliff.
- Drives Like Crazy: Janine.
- Eagle Land: Interesting subversion. The main American character is a fairly quiet, unassuming, rather nerdy but obviously quite decent person. Mitch takes exception to him, however, purely because he's American and assumes he'll live up to the stereotypes he has of them, even though he doesn't in any way whatsoever.
- The moody teenage daughter of the Mayor, Marie, calls America "cultural imperialists", keeps going on about Vietnam, calls the moon landing chauvinistic, and sneeringly asks if all the people in India will be watching it. She also thinks the mission is... well, her words:
Marie: (Defiantly) Is this mission being funded by the CIA?
Al: Not entirely.
Marie: (Uncertainly) Really?
Al plays this so charmingly that when he says goodbye at the end of the meal, it's quite clear Marie has been won over.
- Escalating War: Played subtly.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Prime Minister, odd given that a quick glance at the history books reveals the PM of the time to be John Gorton of the Liberal Party.
- Frothy Mugs of Water: Played in-story. "More tea, Prime Minister?"
- Genius Ditz: Glenn.
- Gilligan Cut
- Hypocritical Humor: Mitch protesting "We're a professional unit!" while in the middle of a cricket match played in the bowl of the Dish.
- Ironic Echo: Cliff's advice comes back to bite him twice.
- Land Down Under: Mostly averted, though Al's lack of understanding of Australian slang is played for laughs in places.
Mitch: "You treat us like a pack of galahs!"
(Al looks confused)
Glenn: (explaining) "That's a type of parrot."
- Mundane Solution
- National Anthem: Bob announces the US National Anthem, band then plays 'Theme from Hawaii Five-O'
- Precision F-Strike: Delivered by the Prime Minister.
PM: "Bob, we have a saying in the Party: you don't fuck up..."
PM: "That's it."
- Refuge in Audacity: Arguably, the aforementioned cricket match and bullshitting of NASA.
- Schizo-Tech: Despite being based on a true story, the juxtaposition of the most powerful telescope in the world with rural Australian life qualifies. It is both Lampshaded ("What's it doing in the middle of a sheep paddock?") and Justified (Parkes' weather, or lack thereof).
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: There is a radio telescope at Parkes, and it did transmit the broadcast of Armstrong walking on the moon, and high winds did pose a concern. Much of the rest of the movie, including the power failure, is made up for Rule of Drama and Rule of Funny.
- You Can't Miss It:
Al: "The prime receiving station has no idea where Apollo XI is?"
Glenn: "Yeah, it's on its way to the Moon."
- Later, they realise that this is the correct answer: if the spaceship was on its way to the Moon, with only a few thousand miles to go, it would be within a few degrees of the Moon in the sky.