Jun 4, 2010

[Movies] Waking Ned Devine (1998)

Waking Ned Devine (1998)There's something about British comedy that has always appealed to me. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's definitely something good to be said about the unique style of more intelligent and often deadpan humor that has developed on that side of the world. Sure, there's the occasional sight gag or moment of slapstick silliness, but on the whole it tends to be a lot quicker than you'd expect and you need to be truly on your toes in order to keep up.

These movies don't often leave Europe and thus it becomes quite the challenge to get ones hands on them. Thankfully my boss is of British descent and thus it has become a new avenue for entertainment for me. We've been swapping movies here and there and the results have been pretty good for both parties, I'd like to think. I for one am certainly enjoying the results of this cultural exchange programs of sorts.

Besides, it's just plain fun to have other people to talk movies with.

Waking Ned Devine is an older 1998 comedy about a small Irish town with a rather interesting prospect for success.

It all starts when news breaks that someone in the small town of Tulaigh Mhór (Tullymore) has won the national lottery. Given there are only 52 residents in the village, it's only a matter of time before the identity of the big winner is confirmed. And this is exactly the challenge that propels best friends Jackie O'Shea (Ian Bannen) and Michael O'Sullivan (David Kelly) to try and puzzle out who the mystery winner is.

Much to their surprise, they eventually determine the winner is old Ned Devine who apparently died upon realizing he had won. With him dead, the lottery winnings would be forfeit and it's hard to just dismiss more than 7 million pounds right away. Thus the town gets together as Jackie proposes that they have Michael O'Sullivan pretend to be Ned, fool the lottery officials and split the winnings evenly amongst all residents of the village.

Now given that kind of a premise, you'd think that the movie would involve a lot of over-the-top situations involving the best friends in various situations where they'd get caught by the officials. While there are some situations that may fit this bill (as involving riding a motorcycle naked), the movie doesn't really push this angle. There's a lot more interest witty banter that gets exchanged here or there, although the Irish accents involved may make it a lot tricker for viewers to understand.

The two protagonists are very well played and I definitely have to respect both Bannen and Kelly for some very genuine on-screen chemistry. Plus Kelly is just a hilarious nut at times and it's nice to see his other work apart from the more popular stuff like the recent Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie.

Oh, and major fun at the involvement of Fionnula Flanagan as Jackie's wife. Losties will remember her more as the enigmatic Eloise Hawking who seems to have a knack for understanding time travel and alternate realities. Here she's just a sassy housewife who certainly adds a nice touch of spark in that part of the story.

The ending was a tad odd and parts of me feel like that's not how things are supposed to work in the real world. Then again, this is still a movie after all and one that supports the underdog quite well. That would better explain why the story ended as it did.

Waking Ned Devine is a nice alternative comedy to get into as long as you have a patient ear when it comes to accents. It gets 3 sneezing fits out of a possible 5.

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