Friday, January 12, 2007

Movie Review: Waking Ned Devine 3 1/2 Stars

When you sit around and ponder what you’d do if your numbers came in and you walked away with a big lottery jackpot, I’m sure riding around town naked on a moped wasn’t the first thing that came to mind–-and if it was, may I suggest Fortunately, in Waking Ned Devine, a wonderful screwball comedy about the people of a small Irish town’s attempt to co-opt a dead man’s lottery winnings, naked elderly men on mopeds is only part of the, uh, fun.

When word comes around that one of the residents of their tiny Irish hamlet has won the national lottery, old friends Jackie O’Shea (Ian Bannen) and Michael Sullivan (David Kelley) do everything they can to figure out who the big winner is in order to get on his good side. The only problem is, no one’s stepping forward with the winning ticket. Only after some riotous detective work do they find that the man who won, Ned Devine, has died of shock (as we’ve all said would happened to us, if we won). Now Jackie and Michael have the winning ticket, but they need to trick the lottery representative into believing that one of them is Ned, as well as convince the rest of the town that they’ll share the jackpot if everyone goes along with the rouse. To explain any further would be ruining a lot of good laughs, as Kirk Holmes (director/screenwriter) has left us with a town full of empty pockets, but rich with colorful characters. What carries us through, however, are the Lemmon and Matthau-type antics of Jackie and Michael. As the situations get more and more outlandish, the laughter just keeps getting louder and louder.

The only downfall here is that the movie’s too short (make a note of it. I most likely will never say that again!) The town is chock full of interesting, oddball characters whose lives would be interesting to watch even without a $6.8 million lottery ticket hanging over their heads. Holmes does a terrific job setting up relationships that simmer under the new fire of scrutiny from the lottery board, and allows them to reach their boiling point with unabashed delight.

So before you ask for that next Quick Pick, be sure to take your heart medication, make a definitive list of your friends and, for Pete’s sake, hide the moped. Let the people in the tiny Irish hamlet of Tulaigh More handle the comedy, they’re professionals.

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