From Ireland, this looks like yet another Hangover-style stag-night comedy, but the script has surprising depth to it, and even the sillier characters find some resonance as the events spiral into the requisite chaos. So while the movie's gross-out humour feels utterly contrived, there's meaning behind it. And the relationships between the central characters are remarkably complex.
The groom is theatre designer Fionnan (O'Conor), who is driving his fiancee Ruth (Huberman) crazy by being too-interested in planning the wedding. So she asks his best man Davin (Scott) to plan a stag getaway. They decide to go on a camping trip with Fionnan's brother (Legge) and his partner (Bennett), plus their friend Simon (Gleeson). But they fail in their efforts to avoid inviting Ruth's intense brother The Machine (McDonald). And sure enough, he takes over the weekend, causing abject mayhem at every turn as their casual hike becomes a series of frantic adventures.
The sharp actors create characters who are realistic and, for the most part, likeable. The exception is The Machine, and McDonald plays him mercilessly, chomping madly on the scenery. It's an over-the-top performance that constantly throws us outside the movie until we begin to see the man underneath the crazed bravado. But he causes the other guys to do inexplicable things as well, which sparks a reaction in us and allows for a bit of depth, especially for Scott in the meatiest role.
It helps that filmmaker Butler holds everything together with some witty directorial choices, playing up the snappy dialog and gorgeous countryside setting. There are several strong themes explored along the way, from the pressures of planning a wedding to the more important issue of tolerance within a family. And in The Machine, the film also finds some revealing truths about male bravado. So even though this idiot drives everyone on screen crazy (and everyone in the audience as well), he surprisingly turns out to have something important to say.
In Theaters: Sunday 1st February 2009
Budget: $600 thousand
Production compaines: Treasure Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Director: John Butler
Producer: Rebecca O'Flanagan, Robert Walpole
Screenwriter: Peter McDonald, John Butler
Starring: Andrew Scott as Davin, Hugh O'Conor as Fionnan, Peter McDonald as The Machine, Brian Gleeson as Simon, Michael Legge as Little Kevin, Andrew Bennett as Big Kevin, Amy Huberman as Ruth, Marcella Plunkett as Uli, Justine Mitchell as Linda, Amy De Bhrún as Rachel, Amy Stephenson as Suzanne