Alli and I went with both sets of our parents to the Fork & Screen today to see Australia – Baz Luhrmann’s sweeping WWII epic about the land down under and the history behind a place I know very little about. The movie stars Nicole Kidman as Lady Sara Ashley, an Englishwoman who leaves England to join her husband in Australia at their cattle ranch. Along the way, she meets Hugh Jackman’s character, The Drover, a real manly Outback man.

The two-hour and forty-five minute epic covers a few years of Australian history, culminating with the Japanese invasion of the continent after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The cast is all-native, including the newcomer Brandon Walters who plays the half-Aboriginal, half-white child Nullah, the most important character of the entire movie.

Jackman and Kidman have terrific chemistry and Luhrmann has crafted a movie as big as the continent itself. Alli and I have been looking forward to Luhrmann’s next movie ever since he got shafted out of a 2001 Oscar nomination for Moulin Rouge!, one of the most creative and visionary movies of the last decade.

I’ve watched several interviews with the stars and makers of Australia and you can tell that this was a very important movie to all of them…it was the story of the place they came from. And kudos go to Luhrmann for not pulling any punches in the story, even exposing the sad story of Australia’s Stolen Generation.

But the real story of the movie is Walters, a kid who was one of over 1,000 interviewed for the character of Nullah. Their commitment to finding the right kid for the role worked out…Walters is so perfect and while he probably won’t be nominated for a supporting actor Oscar when February rolls around, he should. He carries this movie and stands out next to the veterans Jackman and Kidman, who are both excellent.

Some critics are going to try and tear down Luhrmann’s accomplishment, but I’m here to tell you that this movie is wonderful. It’s long, but I can’t think of anything that you could cut from the story. When you have a two-hour and forty-five minute movie that you don’t want to cut…that’s a success. Luhrmann wanted to create a Gone with the Wind for his home country. In my opinion, he succeeded. If you like big epic movies, the kind that they really don’t make any more, GO SEE AUSTRALIA.

Quick Review of Get Smart

Steve Carell is funny.

There’s no denying he’s funny. In the remake of the 1960’s spy spoof TV show, Carell is just…Steve Carell. He’s funny, but he’s probably more Michael Scott than Agent 86 Maxwell Smart. And while I love Michael Scott, he didn’t really belong in this movie.

Carell is surrounded by a huge cast. Anne Hathaway plays his Agent 99 counterpart and The Rock (don’t give me this “Dwayne Johnson” stuff…he’ll always be The Rock to me) plays Agent 23, Max’s idol in the offices of CONTROL. Alan Arkin plays his boss, and there are brief cameos by Bill Murray, James Caan and many others (some funny, some not so much).

The real winner here is Steve Carell. He should get more and more starring roles because he’s a funny guy. If you like him, I’d suggest going to see this movie if only for the scene in the airplane.

Otherwise, I’d probably just rent it.