Irish film set in County Cork with two young lads with an insane get rich quick plan that has to do with a seizure of Cocaine off the coast. I want to start off this review by telling you that sometimes I have trouble making out the County Cork accent but here the dialect was really clear.
Irish comedies are a hit or miss thing for me. You’re either laughing in the aisles or sitting there stone faced and wondering how this thing got funded. Thankfully The Young Offenders is a rolling in the aisles laughing movie, for me at least, as the characters and the script are so funny and wonderfully played that it just kept me laughing for the running time of the film.
The story is simple Conor and Jock are on their summer holidays from school, they are just 15 years old. Conor is lumbered with a job for the summer beside his Mother at the famous Market in Cork, while Jock is the masked bicycle thief that steals any bike within five miles of his house. Both lads have single parents, Conor’s Mother thinks he’s an idiot, while Jock’s Dad is stealing his cash and drinking himself to death. So to get out of their funk they plan to travel down to the coast and try find some of the parcels of Cocaine that were thrown overboard during a seizure. A local Garda (Irish Police) is on their trail due to Jock’s bike thieving ways. As they travel to their destination across some beautiful natural Irish scenery they run into an old Farmer and a disabled Drug Dealer.
I did laugh through watching this film and the comedy reminds me of Dumb and Dumber, but in the best possible way. You take a script that is funny and thoughtful, idiotic youths, and a get rich quick off drugs scheme and avoid any real social commentary and you’re left with one of the funniest Irish films in a long time and also for me one of the funniest films of the year. I guess that my adoration for this film probably comes from knowing lads like this while growing up. Always putting aside their problems at home and dreaming, constantly dreaming of breaking away to a better life, yet not admitting to the reality of life. They are thieves and trouble makers but they have good hearts and at the end of the day would never do something that is more evil than they are comfortable with.
Chris Walley as Jock is outstanding as is Alex Murphy as Conor, their vision of life is strange but if you place yourself in their shoes it makes sense, then you take yourself out of their shoes and laugh that you went there. There is one scene where Jock decides to sit down with the Garda that is stalking them because that’s what De Niro and Pacino did in Heat, and for a little weird moment it makes sense to them and us and we see how it plays out. Playing Conor’s Mother is Hilary Rose, who hits the nail on the head with a young woman who got pregnant at 16 and now 15 years later is trying her best to raise a teenager to be a good citizen. Irish comedian PJ Gallagher stars as a slightly offensive disabled drug dealer, who should have been better written but sadly his character is left with getting laughs mostly from his disability. Maybe being disabled myself leaves me a little more sensitive about that, but I think if you’re going to have disabled characters in your film then do more, make sure the disability isn’t the funny part. It’s a small point that leads to a mark being taken off.
What I loved here is that with a minimal budget and a cast of relative unknowns I was kept entertained and laughing from start to finish. I think of all the comedies that we get from other countries that have massive production budgets and famous cast members and yet I sit there stone faced. The Young Offenders is a dumb comedy with a massive heart that keeps you at the very least smiling. I don’t know how well this film will travel outside of Ireland, or at least for those who don’t understand growing up in Ireland, but please support this film if you get a chance. I can’t wait to see if we see more from Conor and Jock, there is a lot of mileage in those characters, a lot of mileage.