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The Young Offenders (Galway Film Fleadh 2016)

Originally posted as part of our Galway Film Fleadh 2016 coverage

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Cork’s Cocaine Caper – ★★½

There aren’t a whole lot of Irish feature-length comedies that make it to the big screen in Ireland and really get audience bums on seats. In recent years there’s really only three that spring to my mind – The Guard, The Hardy Bucks Movie and The Stag. All three had their critics but they were comedies that made a lot of people feel like the tiny bit of taxpayer’s money that goes to Irish Film Board funding was going toward stuff that they’d actually watch. Disregard the glut of Irish film success of 2015 and early 2016, and ask a lot of people if they saw an Irish film in 2011, 2013 or 2014 and it’s quite possible that those three films might be the only ones cited.

The Young Offenders galway film fleadhThe Young Offenders is a film with a much smaller budget than those Irish films, that now finds itself aiming for the same mainstream audience. Peter Foott’s film, set in 2007, tells the story of Conor and Jock (Alex Murphy and Chris Walley), two Cork teenagers both being brought up in dysfunctional families who get wind of 62 bales of cocaine that were floating around in the Irish sea, each one worth a cool €7million. Life will be much better if you have €7million! So off they head on two stolen bicycles to the West Cork coast, the only spanner in the works is a Garda taking a special interest in bike theft who tracks them… and a chance encounter with a Dublin drug dealer (PJ Gallagher) who wants the bag of coke for himself. Why exactly Gallagher’s character needs to be depicted as having a disability (see pic above) is beyond me.

The comedy on show here is best described as… “broad”, with none of the satire and depth you might have expected from a team who had worked with Irish TV staples like Republic of Telly and the Rubberbandits. But even if it’s not very smart, it is pretty damn funny most of the time, and it would take a very square Corkonian to not be in stitches at the antics their countrymen Conor and Jock get themselves mixed up in.

Star of the show here is newcomer Alex Murphy as Conor (the shorter of the two clutching the chicken in the pic on the right) whose chemistry with his on-screen mother played by Hilary Rose is a joy to behold. A little more time with their relationship would have helped the film which gets a little lost in its middle act as the two head out to West Cork.

On reflection the film is exactly what it sets out to be, a buddy movie caper that has a nifty trailer and will will get bums on seats. It deserves to do well at the cinema despite all its problems, but I’ll admit I’m most excited by what those involved will do next, hopefully with some more funding next time around.

Opens in Irish cinemas on September 16th

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Director Peter Foott
Cast Chris Walley, Alex Murphy, Hilary Rose, PJ Gallagher
Script Peter Foott
Producers Peter Foott, Julie Ryan, Cormac Fox