Saturday, 4 October 2008

No.76 : Waking Ned

IMDb Link :

When a lottery ticket sold in a small Irish town is reported to have won the jackpot the locals are curious as to the identity of the lucky winner. After all the possibilities have been investigated only one name remains - Ned Devine. Local character Jackie, shamefully goes around to Ned’s house with a bit of chicken to ingratiate himself, but unfortunately finds the lucky winner dead, still clutching the winning ticket with a grin on his lifeless face.

Rather than phone the police and undertaker Jackie nabs the ticket and enlists his pal Michael in a scheme to defraud the lotto. Ned however knew not to trust his neighbours, and wrote his name on the back meaning only he can claim the prize. The dodgy duo don’t like the thought of the money going to the state, as Ned has no known family, so they decide to masquerade as the passed on pensioner.

Their initial plan for Jackie to play Ned is scuppered when they are caught unawares by the lotto agent and it falls to the less nimble tongued Michael to play the part of Ned. For some reason the agent says he’ll have to ask around the village before issuing the cheque and the pair have to agree to split the cash around the community rather than keep it all for their greedy selves as initially planned.

The morally bankrupt village all sign up to the plan which will see them share £7 million, but one just citizen may yet put a spanner in the works. As the lotto agent signs over the cheque the ‘evil witch’ is on her way to spoil the party but fate has yet to play all of its cards.

This film sets up the main protagonists as a couple of old rogues but I felt they came across as a bit suspect on many fronts. When Ned is found dead with his ticket he’s described as having been there for days - lovely community spirit there! Despite leaving his corpse to fester for days they all remember him as their best pal when the money shows up.

To be fair Ian Bannen is likable in the lead role and, if you discount his nude motorcycling scenes , David Kelly is good value as the stand in Ned - nice to see his arm grew back after ‘Robin’s Nest’ too! The gentle nature of the film, despite its many crimes and indeed deaths, means that there is no danger or threat to speak of and it’s a question of when rather than if they’ll get the money. Little time is given to the morality of the issue, with the dead Ned who is presumably Catholic, being left in purgatory for ever more.

To pad things out there is a love triangle story bolted on which has almost nothing to do with the main event apart from a weak and frankly unbelievable reveal at the end. The whole love story, that involves Jimmy Nesbitt, is really far fetched mainly because the girl being fought over is really ugly with eyebrows that’d have Denis Healey reaching for the scissors.

This isn’t a particularly bad film but it failed to engage me and it doesn’t have the roguish community spirit seen in superior films like ‘Whisky Galore’. The diddle-dee music throughout was also pretty grating and I’m sure the Irish tourist board loved the depiction of their people as a bunch on conniving Guinness drinking fraudsters.

Best Bit : Not David Kelly in the raw

‘W’ Rating 12/23

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