Waking Ned (PG)

Directed by Kirk Jones
Starring Ian Bannen, David Kelley, Fionnula Flanagan, Susan Lynch, James Nesbitt

Feelgood comedy about two old codgers in Ireland who discover that the winner of the National Lottery lives in their small village. When it turns out that the winner, Ned Devine, has died of a heart attack on hearing the numbers on the tv, Jackie(Bannen) and Michael(Kelley) hatch a plan to claim the money themselves.

Actually filmed on the Isle of Man, this film recycles an awful lot of old clichés about the Irish, but manages to be terrific fun largely thanks to Bannen and Kelley, who are wonderfully spry. Definitely old Men Mehaving Badly! The film opens with Bannen playing a wicked trick on his wife Annie (Flanagan), and the warm hearted humour continues from there. A particularly memorable scene has Kelly motorcycling through the island in the nude! Not a pretty sight. There is able support from James Nesbitt as a smelly pig farmer trying to romance his on-again/off-again girlfriend Susan Lynch, and a whole village full of well drawn if rather over the top eccentric characters.

The plot is nicely engaging and the film is refreshingly unsentimental on the whole. Black humour abounds- the ending caused gales of laughter in the cinema I was in, even though there weren't more than 20 people there.

This is that sort of film, one that you don't know if you will like and end up telling all your friends how much fun it was. Indeed, it has done extremely well at the UK box office, largely on word of muth recommendations. After all, a film with two OAPs, no guns, and nudity you really do NOT want to see, it hardly sounds like a smash hit.

Compliments should go to director Kirk Jones- I haven't heard of him before- who also wrote the script, and has produced a highly enjoyable comedy. 8/10

March 1999

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