DIR/WRI: Peter Foott • PRO: Peter Foott, Julie Ryan • DOP: Patrick Jordan • ED: Colin Campbell • MUS: Ray Harman • CAST: Hilary Rose, Chris Walley, Ciaran Bermingham, PJ Gallagher
A fake mask, PJ Gallagher’s half-shaved head, an out-of-control nail-gun scene, some very fancy indoor cycling, and grisly chicken murder are just a few of the things that we didn’t realise were missing from Irish cinema until The Young Offenders. This manic, warm and ridiculous film showcases the wealth of characters and venues that the Peoples’ Republic has to offer. Sort of a funny Cork Once… on speed.
The plot is a cheeky twist on the classic MacGuffin chase; two local lads, Jock (Chris Walley) and Conor (Alex Murphy) abandon their jobs – bike stealing and fish selling respectively – to go in search of a shipment of cocaine that has gone overboard in Wesht Cark during a Garda raid. Seven million euros, the street value of each missing bale, means they could finally live in a replica of City Hall with cars and topless ‘beors’. Like Batman.
Bearing this in mind, the pair set off cycling through the countryside, during some of the nicest weather Munster has ever seen, on ill-gotten transport – all the while being chased by the tireless Sergeant Healy. There are many bumps along their journey, to which Conor’s sticky nether regions would regrettably testify, and as the terrible decisions Jock and Conor make start stacking up, they are eventually forced to deal with the consequences.
It would be easy from the promo to peg The Young Offenders as all dopey characters spouting snappy dialogue. Which it is, of course, but these dopey characters are rounded and likeable. These young offenders may steal your bikes, but they’ll also come back for your heart! There’s real chemistry in both the bromance between both the two boys, and in the relationship between Conor and his Mam (Hilary Rose). Heavier themes such as loneliness, depression, domestic abuse and alcoholism sneak in, almost unnoticed, while we’re busy laughing at Jock tormenting Sergeant Healy or Mairead’s brilliant put-downs.
Plus the pacing is perfect and the main cast demonstrate sharp comedic timing and emotional depth. Not too shabby for two newcomers to the big screen. Peter Foott has made the best Irish buddy-comedy to date on a shoestring of a budget. With all the frenzied chases, a substantial soundtrack, elaborate action scenes and attractive aerial shots of Cork, it would be a fierce shame to catch this on anything else but the big screen.
15A (See IFCO for details)
The Young Offenders is released 16th September 2016