May 14, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
We gave it a B

From the satirical nostalgia of the Brady Bunch films to the popularity of The WB’s 7th Heaven (an orgy of retro squareness), there’s a yearning in the air for the return of the middle-class domestic patriarch — the daddy who looks out for everyone. Will the Australian import The Castle tap that it’s-always-the-’50s comfort zone? The movie is an agreeably flaky comedy about a tow-truck driver, Darryl Kerrigan (Michael Caton), who faces down the government after it tries to evict his family from their precious home.

As a piece of real estate, the house, situated next to an airport, is hardly worth fighting for. Darryl, however, has nothing but reverence for its tacky poolroom stuffed with tchotchkes, for the roar of the planes, for the cramped kitchen table where his wife serves up incomparably tasty and original creations like…meatloaf. (Darryl: ”It’s what ya do with it!”) The Castle is high-concept Capra, a movie that could end up tapping the same audience that turned out for winsome faux-proletarian fables like The Full Monty and Waking Ned Devine. The crowd-pleasing finale doesn’t quite surge the way you want it to, but Caton’s performance is pure catnip. He convinces you that ignorance is truly bliss. B

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