Submitted by Tornado Dragon
One day, Darryl (Michael Caton) takes his appeal on the Air Link consortium’s compulsory acquisition of his and his neighbors’ houses to the federal court with the help of attorney Dennis Denuto (Tiriel Mora). Unfortunately, because Dennis is not educated in Constitutional law, he is not able to present a very persuasive case in Darryl’s favor, only basically saying that what the consortium is doing goes against the “vibe” of the Constitution. When the judge calls for a one-hour adjournment, Darryl steps out to have a cigarette, and he soon meets a random elderly gentleman who is here to watch his son perform his first case as a barrister. The gentleman introduces himself as Lawrence Hammill (Charles “Bud” Tingwell), and they have a pleasant chat, during which Darryl explains why he is here, which intrigues Lawrence. When Darryl returns to the courtroom, the judge ends up ruling against him, and he and his neighbors are given two weeks to move out of their neighborhood.
Later that week, while the depressed Darryl and his wife, Sal (Anne Tenney), are packing up some of their belongings and discussing their less-than-ideal options of where they can live, their son, Steve (Anthony Simcoe), gets their attention and tells them that they have a guest, after which Lawrence appears behind him. He sits down with Darryl and Sal, and after telling them that he had heard about the court’s decision, he informs them that he is a retired Queen’s Counsel barrister who specialized in Constitutional law. He then goes on to explain that, over these last few days, he had a look into Darryl’s case, and he saw that there was a bit more to it; he believes that there is a section of the Constitution that talks about the government’s right to acquire land that hasn’t been tested (there is a landfill behind Darryl’s house that is toxic due to having a large amount of lead in it). He then tells Darryl about his plan to use this information to file another appeal for him, this time with the High Court of Australia, and he adds that he will gladly represent him in court for no fee. Darryl agrees to this arrangement, and Lawrence also asks Dennis to be his instructing solicitor.
Three weeks later, the case begins anew in the High Court. After some time passes, the Q.C. representing the Air Link consortium riles Darryl up by calling his home an “eyesore” and then insulting his son, Wayne (Wayne Hope), who is serving a prison sentence for armed robbery, prompting one of the judges to call for an adjournment so Darryl can compose himself. While standing outside the courthouse with Lawrence and Dennis, Darryl tells Lawrence that, when the opposing Q.C. called his home an eyesore, he and the Air Link consortium showed that they just don’t get it; they’re judging his place by what it looks like, and because it doesn’t have certain luxuries like a swimming pool or a big garden, they think it’s not worth saving. He explains that his house is not just a house, but a home; it has people who love and care for each other, it has great memories, and it is a place for the family to turn to. When it comes time for Lawrence to make his closing speech, he ends up incorporating what Darryl said to him into his speech, which Darryl likes very much, and he lastly tells the court that, while you can acquire a house, you can’t acquire a home, because it is not built with just bricks and mortar, but also with love and memories. In the end, the judges rule in favor of Darryl.
Dale (Stephen Curry) – Darryl’s youngest son and the narrator of the film – tells the audience that Darryl’s victory was reported on the TV news and in all the newspapers, and it ended up becoming known as “The Kerrigan Decision.” That very night, Darryl and his family threw a big party at the house to celebrate, and in addition to inviting all their neighbors, friends, and in-laws, Darryl invited Dennis, Lawrence, and his son. He also invited everyone up to the family’s cottage in Bonnie Doon.
Dale then tells the viewer that this courtroom victory began a string of good luck for the family (and their friends):
- Six months later, Wayne became eligible for parole, and Lawrence came out of retirement again at Darryl’s request to represent him at his hearing. With Lawrence by his side, Wayne was granted parole quite easily, and after his release, he went to work for Darryl’s tow trucking company and helped him expand it.
- Lawrence became a close friend of the family, and he regularly joins Darryl on his fishing trips at Bonnie Doon.
- Dennis became very well-known after the case, and people came from everywhere to hire him. He would later win a very big case; a class action suit against the people who dumped the lead into the landfill (though Dale mentions that he was pretty sure that Lawrence helped him on that).
- Darryl’s champion greyhound, Coco, never won another race, but she had a son that Darryl has named “Son of Coco.” He hasn’t won any races yet, but Darryl has high hopes for him.
- Steve got back together with his old girlfriend, Kerry (Julie Kulpinski), and they eventually got married and had a son.
- Darryl’s daughter, Tracey (Sophie Lee), and her husband, Con (Eric Bana), also had a son as well. Con – an avid kickboxer – is last shown teaching their son how to kickbox.
- Darryl and Sal still live happily in their house, though they are now the only ones residing in it, and Darryl still calls his home his “castle.”