Since the fabled days of the 10BA production investment initiative, several reliable models have emerged for making marketable Australian content for both the local and international markets. One is the outback kids’ adventure film: throw a tyke or two into peril, make sure to get plenty of picturesque shots of the scenery, throw in some “exotic” wildlife, and Bob’s your uncle. See: every single episode of Skippy.
Another is the practice of casting some recognisable import in a key role, to bump up the international profile of a film. Remember Jamie Lee Curtis and Stacy Keach in Richard Franklin’s Road Games (1981)? Kirk Douglas in The Man From Snowy River (1981)? Or more recently, Eddie Izzard in the (dreadful, believe me) The Flip Side (2018)?
Occasionally you get a twofer, such as Brian Trenchard-Smith’s Frog Dreaming (1986), aka The Quest, in which American actor Henry Thomas, still riding relatively high off the success of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, headed down under to play an American kid relocated to Australia who gets caught up in some bush-based adventures. And now we have Buckley’s Chance, in which Milan Burch plays Ridley, an American kid relocated to Australia who gets caught up in some bush-based adventures.
Burch, making his feature film debut here, isn’t the international drawcard, though. That’d be British Bill Nighy, who plays Ridley’s taciturn bushman grandfather Spencer. Following the death of his fireman father, Ridley and his mother, Gloria (Victoria Hill), decamp to paternal grandad Spencer’s vast outback sheep station to put their lives back together.