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cast: Milo O'Shea, David Kelly, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Liam Cunningham, and Doreen Keogh

director: David Blair
86 minutes (12) 2002
widescreen ratio 16:9
Momentum DVD Region 2 rental
Also available to rent on video

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Paul Higson
We all love Milo O'Shea and David Kelly, and shooting a feature film in which your two stars are octogenarians must have put some sweat on the brow. Long after the wrap the two seem determined to live forever, and let's just leave them to it. The talented two, however, cannot save this professionally dull exercise in which they play variety bill veterans who supplement their remaining days with a s�ance scam, preying on a community they know well enough to convey to them from the 'other side' the things they most want to hear. Locky (O'Shea) is the vocal mimic hidden in the attic performing to a soundtrack of synthesiser swirls and twittering birds while Dapper Dave (Kelly) is the 'conduit', relaxed in a big chair with mouth open and quivering. The community is heavy in the criminal element and the biggest of them all Larry MacMaster is being buried as the story opens. The location of the diamonds from his last heist is unknown to his surviving relatives and widow Foxie (Maria Doyle Kennedy) drags the immediate family to the fake mystic the following morning. No whistles and bells this time, the booming voice of Mac (Ronnie Drew) is channelled through and Dapper Dave is suddenly the real thing. It also means that the old men are suddenly part of the gang, vulnerably beset thereupon with visits from the police, led by Liam Cunningham, and a rival gang fronted by Bosco (Pat Kinovane). With the diamonds recovered, Larry plans one final job, six suitcases with �1,000,000 in each flying in to a small Irish airport.

It is a premise that could have come out of Ealing, also recalling the more upmarket British spooky comedies of the 1940s but it fails to provide the requisite titters. The jokes are sparsely played out and other gags fall flat, it is comedic rather than comedy. It is a script falsely secure in the storyline, too happy with its plot. And it is a winding tale, transporting the action continuously, sometimes with a fast car, getting caught up in that, taking its ears of the dialogue when it should have been looking at making it funnier. There is no effort at cracker lines. Some of the sooner laughs come from minor details, an expression on a secondary characters face, such is the look and the fidgeting of the father at the s�ance, scowling at the proceedings that the rest of his family are buying into. It needs a lot more of that though, it demands much funnier verbiage and a shot of real character. The professionalism of the presentation and the experienced cast leaves only the conclusion that those involved are simply incapable of being funnier.

There are some good lines like the worrying rumour that the parlour links to the hereafter are, well, "it's a bit of a hey-diddle-diddle," as Mickey MacMaster puts it. Then there's the report that when gang members were caught in the vicinity of the heist the police had to let them go because they couldn't prove the country lane loitering nothing more than what it was claimed to be: "they said they were picking blackberries." Performances all round are good, Kelly perhaps coming to the fore unfairly, particularly as vocally Milo O'Shea meets his task well. There is a large cast and Blair almost miraculously succeeds in segregating them early in proceedings when in most movies with several factions you spend most of the movie trying to determine who the hell is who. It is never Kelly and O'Shea's film with up to 20 important characters balancing the tale out to each performer's credit.

The language is tame, with that occasional 'feck' and a one-off 'shag', and one suspects that if someone were to pull them up on the latter, they would respond, 'the dance, or possibly the bird'; there's nowhere to go for the film but for that PG rating. There is one final joke that cries out to be experienced in the cinema when halfway through the closing titles the voice of Larry bursts again intoning: "Where de ya think ya going? Git back to ya seats! Yer leave the cinema when oi sey so, do yer heya me?" But even this would backfire if people were to return to their seats because there is no gag awaiting them on the other end of the titles. I, too, could have had that kettle boiling another minute and a half.

There is a trailer and interviews of the safe promotional standard with the producer, director and five of the stars, though these are all shabby and the last thing you want is the foolhardiness of these people telling you how funny the script, the shooting and the results are after the drab fact.

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