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Non-Review Review: The Hardy Bucks Movie

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a massive fan of The Hardy Bucks. Still, it’s hard not to smile at an Irish success story that seen a bunch of lads fooling around on YouTube, brought them to national television and launched a feature film. The Hardy Bucks Movie isn’t revolutionary. It’s not a work of comedy genius for the ages. Quite a lot of it feels overly familiar, an Irish spin on the “young men go wild abroad” subgenre that has proven popular in the past number of years. And yet, despite that, there’s a quaint charm to The Hardy Bucks Movie that makes it reasonably entertaining. The lads from Castletown has survived the transition to the big screen with their dignity – such that it is – intact.

The naked truth...

The naked truth…

To be fair, The Hardy Bucks Movie cleverly pitches its comedy broad. it doesn’t count on the audience being overly familiar with these Irish comedy legends, and instead takes the time to introduce each of the Castletown clan to the audience, pitching an adventure that is surprisingly accessible for a movie that evolved from a television show. None of the lead actors are especially gifted comedians, but there is something quite charming in their willingness to do anything for a laugh, and the fact that they aren’t worried about going for cheap gags.

Most of the jokes here are fairly juvenile, but that’s part of the charm. Despite the abundance of foul language on display and the casket of sex toys that the guys happen to end up with, most of the gags are pitched at a broad enough level that it’s charming. The characters each conform to comedy archetypes, and play off each other well. The actors might not be the finest performers Ireland has ever produced, but the characters are effective enough.

Water under the canal...

Water under the canal…

The television show is a comedic look at life in rural Ireland. However, despite that relatively unique setting, the characters in The Hardy Bucks Movie work because they are drawn so broad, conforming to all manner of classic comedy stereotypes. Eddie Dunbar is “the leader”, the Viper is “the dumb, dodgy one”, “the Boo” is the entrepreneur, Salmon is “the geek.” These are all universal comedy character types, and the group dynamic translates well enough that The Hardy Bucks Movie isn’t necessarily an exclusively Irish comedy.

It’s that simplicity that endears the film somewhat. Indeed, highlights include the drug dealing Viper’s pathetic antisocial loneliness. It’s a gag that is fairly one-note, but The Hardy Bucks Movie manages to play it out so well that continues to be funny. Similarly, a conversation between the entrepreneurial member of the gang and an Amsterdam sex shop owner is one that the movie keeps coming back to – and the film is persistent enough that it pays off. Similarly, the moment where the gang treat Viper to “a bit of bullying” starts off charming, becomes tiresome and cycles back around to hilarious through sheer stubbornness.

Their backs are against the wall...

Their backs are against the wall…

There’s a certain willingness to stick with a scene until it works that keeps everything charming, the film doesn’t let a scene play out without some nice aside that will elicit a grin or a chuckle. The unfortunate side effect, however, is that the film runs a little bit too long. Indeed, The Hardy Bucks Movie might be a bit better had it jettisoned the inevitable drug-smuggling plot that exists to tie the movie together and give everything stakes. It’s just about the least creative plot point any movie set in Amsterdam could use, and there’s a sense that The Hardy Bucks Movie might work a lot better as a collection of disjointed sketches documenting the team’s trip to Poland.

Still, the plot doesn’t intrude too much on everything. At its core, the film is a set of almost episodic adventures as the team make their way through Europe. And these adventures generally work quite well. The film doesn’t hesitate to go for the easiest gags available, and there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that. There’s a lot of jokes about bodily functions, but there is also a great deal of wordplay and situational comedy to off-set that somewhat. However, those looking for a sophisticated or especially cultured comedy might want to look elsewhere.

Game for anything...

Game for anything…

The Hardy Bucks Movie isn’t a cinematic classic. It is, however, quite enjoyable despite itself, with Mike Cockayne giving the whole affair a decidedly light cinematic touch. It’s a diverting little affair, a moment of levity that doesn’t ask or expect too much of its audience. There’s nothing wrong with that.

I don’t normally rate films, but the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival asks the audience to rank a film from 1 (worst) to 4 (best). In the interest of full and frank disclosure, I ranked this film: 3

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