Thursday, September 18, 2014

Waking Ned [1999]
Waking Ned [1999]
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, DVD, 12 June, 2000
Director: Kirk Jones (III)
Actors: Ian Bannen, David Kelly
Features: PAL, Widescreen
List Price: £12.99
New Price: £4.97
Used Price: £3.60
Third Party Price: £3.57
Availability: Usually dispatched within 24 hours
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Customer Reviews

Amusing comedy for adults
Ned Devine lives in a small, rural, old-fashioned Irish village and wins the national lottery. Unfortunately, the shock of winning gives him an immediate and fatal heart-attack. The entire village, led by two of Ned's friends, conspire to collect and share the money by impersonating Ned and fooling the lottery officials.

Lots of beautiful scenery. The Irish accents are sometimes difficult to understand.

Ian Bannen and David Kelly are wonderful as the two who run the impersonation scam. They make perfect old scoundrels or curmudgeons. Everyone seems believable as inhabitants of a small, rural Irish village.

This is a movie that makes you laugh occasionally but smile a lot. The naked motorcycle ride is hilarious, as is the village "witch" going over the cliff (apparently without her broomstick).

While there is little profanity, no sex, and little nudity (one wrinkly old man), this is not a movie for kids because the whole theme revolves around cheering for a group of likeable but dishonest people who are tying to cheat the government. Adults will understand the "suspension of disbelief" needed and the line between fact and fiction (I hope), but children don't need dishonesty being modeled for them, especially by the good guys.

Very amusing, occasionally hilarious, very likeable. Avoid this film if you overdose easily on quaint Irish charm.

Jackie and Michael try to cash in a winning lottery ticket
A charming comedy about a pair of lifelong friends, Jackie O'Shea (Ian Bannen) and Michael O'Sullivan (David Kelly), who are presented with the opportunity of a lifetime when they discover Ned Devine has died, clutching the winning ticket frm the Irish lottery in his hand. This means enlisting everybody in town to join the grand conspiracy and to share in the pot of gold. Meanwhile, in what we think is an unrelated subplot, Pig Finn (James Nesbitt) is trying to convince Maggie (Susan Lynch) to marry him and to learn if her son is his own. "Waking Ned Devine" ends up being more about friendship than greed, with the high point coming when Jackie eulogizes his friend Michael when they bury old Ned under Michael's name to fool the Lottery Official. Yes, there is a bit of fantasy here since the Lottery Office could not be so easily fooled, but what is wrong with a harmless suspension of disbelief? Filmed in beautiful locations on the Isle of Man, "Waking Ned Devine" is a gentle reminder than you can have a nice little film with good actors and a fine script that does not cost a whole lot of money.

Waking Ned
I have seldom been so entertained by such a distinct lack of action in all my life. The film just goes to prove that it is crafty dialogue, a well worked plot and excellent acting that goes to make a wonderful film and not spectacular special effects or wall to wall fight scenes.

The main plot of the winning lottery ticket is superbly crafted by Ian Bannen and David Kelly (who doesn't look a moment different from when he played incompetent builder O'Reilly in Faulty Towers!) and these two wily old dogs concoct their plan to defraud the Irish Lottery, involving the whole village in their madcap scheme.

The sub-plot of the triangular love affair involving pig farmer James Nesbit (for whom greater things awaited after this film) is just sublime in its gentle loveliness and is almost worthy of a film in its own right. Beautifully coupled with the questions over the boy Maurice's parentage and then this itself attached to the young boy's relationship with the village's priest, it is really well executed.

The other supporting characters are fantastic in their own quirkiness

In a way it's a throwback to more innocent times when everyone knew their neighbours and never travelled further than their birthplace.

The humour is not laugh out loud, but the humorous parts are genuinely funny and in many respects more enjoyable for their gentle wit. Mix that with some indisputable touching scenes and the mix really is a winner. Admittedly it does play the "ideal Irish" card pretty heavily and makes out Ireland to be everything us outsiders dream it is, but that said the scenery is stunning (albeit Isle of Mann scenery) and the music fantastic.

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