"The Castle": Darryl versus Goliath
Sunday, April 3, 2005 at 08:13AM
Political Mammal in Popular Culture

I guess I am a sucker for a “Darryl versus Goliath” story. Otherwise it is hard to explain exactly why I am such an abiding fan of the Australian comedy “The Castle.” Maybe it is because it is a gently political movie, a funny one, where you root for the working class heroes against the powers-that-be. Maybe it’s just the vibe of the thing.

The Kerrigan family (“I’m Dale Kerrigan, and this is my story”) owns a house at 3 Highview Crescent, Coolaroo. Their house is on the edge of an airport, next to some power lines, and nothing will grow in the back (“what do you know about lead?”) Darryl Kerrigan, the Dad, “reckons power lines are a reminder of man's ability to generate electricity.” The family loves each other (“now give me a kiss, you big hunk of a man”) and their home. Dale’s brother Steve is “an ideas man.” Sister Tracey (“a fully-qualified hairdresser”) is “the only girl in the family, apart from mum and gran.” They celebrate all accomplishments, “Dale dug a hole!” Their family happiness is colored by the fact that Dale’s brother Wayne is in prison “eight years for armed robbery.”

When they discover that the home is going to be compulsorily acquired to expand the airport, Darryl decides “it’s not going to happen.” He won’t accept a buyout offer or threats from the Barlow Group. He hires an inexpert local lawyer, Dennis Denuto, who had represented Wayne. Denuto fails to win the argument before the administrative appeals tribunal (“In summing up, it's the constitution, its Mabo, it's justice, it's law, it's the vibe. No that's it, it's the vibe.”) They try again and fail at the federal appeals court, but during a break Darryl meets a man who turns out to be a retired constitutional lawyer.

After all looks lost, Darryl’s friend enables them to take their case to the Australian High Court. During the oral arguments at that court, the condescending and bewigged opposing counsel refers to their “dwelling” as an “eyesore” and makes disparaging reference to Wayne. Darryl defend his castle: “what are you calling an eyesore? It's called a home, you dickhead.” The results of the case make national news.

If you’ve seen the movie, you will remember:

“This is going straight to the pool room”

“You can overcapitalize can't you”

“Darl, what do you want with jousting sticks”

“Tell him he is dreaming”

“Love the serenity”

“If it's going to be lawyers I'm going to hit them with the big artillery”

“What is it with wogs and cash?”


“It’s got a pretty good gate.”

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