We get one of these every few months whether we need one or not, so “Danny Deckchair” is this season’s quirky-characters-with-accents comedy. Unlike its main character, it never quite achives lift-off, but it is a pleasant little diversion with some very sweet moments.
Rhys Ifans (best remembered as the goofy roommate in Notting Hill) plays Danny, a sweet, unambitious man who is looking forward to taking his girlfriend (Justine Clark) on a camping trip for his vacation. But she cancels to spend some time with a glamorous newscaster. Danny mopes around the house, feeling unimportant and unappreciated. When all of his friends are over for a party, he decides to do something to impress everyone. So he ties a bunch of huge yellow helium balloons to a lawn chair and takes off into the sky.
He floats through the night and like Dorothy landing in Oz, he comes down in a place that is completely strange to him. It’s the town of Clarence. He lands in a tree owned by Glenda (Miranda Otto of the Lord of the Rings trilogy), a meter maid. Like Danny, she is feeling neglected and pigeonholed, so she impulsively introduces him as her professor and implies he is her boyfriend as well.
Both Danny and Glenda enjoy the freedom they find in re-inventing themselves. The people in Clarence listen to Danny, at first because they are curious about him, then because they think he is a professor, and finally because they like what he has to say. He likes being listened to. He is asked to help with the campaign of a local politician. People listen to Danny — and then he starts to listen to himself, to want to be all that the people of Clarence think he is and all that Glenda thinks he can be.
The slight story steals a lot of charm from its performers. Ifans and Otto are marvelously endearing and Clark is wonderfully funny as the girlfriend who enjoys the attention she gets when her boyfriend disappears into the sky. If it is lightweight and predictable, it is also undeniably a lot of fun.
Parents should know that the movie has some strong language, implied sexual situations, mild sexual references, and drinking and smoking. There are some tense scenes and scuffles. Danny’s escapade is, of course, extremely dangerous and children who see this movie should be warned not to try anything so foolish.
Families who see this movie should talk about why Danny saw himself so differently in Clarence than he did at home. Why did Danny make Glenda see herself differently? Why was it hard for Danny and Glenda to know what they really wanted?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy The Full Monty (mature material), Calendar Girls, and Waking Ned Divine,