By Leah Rozen
Updated April 09, 2001 12:00 PM

Sam Neill, Patrick Warburton

What did a satellite dish in the middle of a lonely sheep pasture in rural Australia have to do with Neil Armstrong taking his first step on the moon on July 20, 1969? For those here on Earth, quite a lot. It was thanks to that gargantuan piece of hardware that 600 million people were able to watch the first lunar landing live on TV. This sweet comedy tells the true, little-known story of how the dish’s three-man Aussie crew (Neill, Kevin Harrington and Tom Long) and an American from NASA (Warburton) overcame technical glitches and high winds to play a small but crucial role in history.

The Dish is long on charm if short on gripping drama. It is most amusing when it contrasts the laid-back Down Under dwellers with their stick-to-the-schedule Yank counterparts; these Australians know they’re smart, but they’re not about to brag on themselves to prove it. Director-writer Rob Sitch (The Castle) perfectly captures the Aussies’ “no worries, mate” attitude in a scene in which Harrington complains bitterly to Neill about getting no respect from NASA, all the while batting a cricket ball against the upturned face of the dish. (PG-13)

Bottom Line: Delicious Dish