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IN SHORT: A gem.
Teens first, everybody else jump down a paragraph. OK kidlets, everything the marketers say you want in a movie is in this one, Waking Ned Devine. There's nudity. There's a horny woman. There's the theft of millions and millions of dollars, a death, and a conspiracy to cover both of those things up. There's also a real mean, old and nasty bitch who proves the ancient proverb that God'll get you if you aren't nice. Now run off to school. Cranky wants to talk to grownups who have things like relationships under their belts and who have to do things like balance budgets.
Cranky sees over 150 movies every year, and that's half of what some reviewers see. When it comes to foreign productions, a couple of criteria kick into gear. If the movie is subtitled, it has the proverbial icicle's chance of getting seen 'cuz 99% of you, my readers, won't shell out to read a screen. There's no language problem with Waking Ned Devine, whose cast lays on a thick layer of Irish accent. Second gate is the number of stars in the flick. For Waking Ned Devine, that number is essentially zero, excepting some television faces you might recognize if you know who to look for, and the principals are all sixty plus. That translates to demographics hell. Overriding all else are the raves of other reviewers for these obscure films -- we all talk to each other and pass along recommendations when we see something early or unique. So, Cranky wasn't going to see Waking Ned Devine, but a fellow reviewer's rave sparked my attention.
And I'm glad I did. This flick is a blast.
Tulaigh Mohr (pronounced Tully More) is a remote Irish village, population 52. Someone in the town holds a winning lottery ticket, whose worth is estimated at at least £500,000 by a conniving retiree of the village named Jackie O'Shea (Ian Bannon). His wife Annie (Fionnula Flanagan, from ST:TNG) doesn't have the winner and neither does his best friend Michael O'Sullivan (David Kelly; O'Reilly on Fawlty Towers). That leaves 49 and a limited time to find and befriend the winner, and thus scam out a share of the prize money. Could it be the pig farmer Finn (James Nesbitt), seen driving an expensive convertible and trying to lure the absolute love of his life, Maggie (Susan Lynch), into the passenger seat? Problem is Pig Finn's body odor is so thick that Maggie won't get within two feet of him. Could it be Mrs. Kennedy (Maura O'Malley) who has a twinkle in her eye for Michael? Or perhaps the nasty old Lizzy Quinn (Eileen Dromey). Nah, not that one. She'd much rather see you roast your innards on a spit than share her fortune. Or could it be old Ned Devine (Jimmy Keogh, in a marvelously deadpan performance) who has seemingly disappeared?
Writer/Director Kirk Jones has put together a brilliantly quirky set of characters. Yes, as said in the top 'graph, there is nudity and a horny woman and theft and fraud and it's all terrifically funny and great fun. I won't give away the secret of Ned, but I will reveal that the winning ticket is worth more than ten times what everyone thinks, which ups the stakes and makes that God thing I hinted at so perfectly executed that the entire screening room full of critics burst into applause when it all came down.
Lots of money at stake. Two old geezers who don't do anything you'd expect of two old geezers and an unrequited love story (with a question of paternity dangling over all) flesh out the movie. The trailer, which gives the "secret of Ned" away, makes the movie out to be an Us (small town) vs. Them (big city) flick, but it's much funnier and much more than that. If I start revealing the gags, you'd hate me. Trust me on this one. See this movie.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Waking Ned Devine, he would have paid . . .
of the Cranky rating system is that Waking Ned Devine would usually
get a $4, meaning wait for Pay-Per-View, but this is a flick that doesn't
fit in the Cranky scale properly. If you have the opportunity to see it
in a theater with a crowd of folk, do so. I was in a lousy mood when I
walked in to see the flick and I was happy as a loon within two minutes
of its beginning. Waking Ned Devine is highly recommended.
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