Finally, a comedy that will make you feel like a million bucks.
Yet another movie that was marketed incorrectly yields a fun, entertaining evening of belly splitting laughter.
Waking Ned Devine is the story of a small Irish town, which finds itself in an "interesting" situation. One of the 52 townspeople has won the national lottery, and no one can figure out who it is. The story focuses on two major characters, Jackie O'Shea (Ian Bannen) and Michael O'Sullivan (David Kelly). Jackie and Michael stumble through several failed attempts at both discovering and ingratiating themselves to the winner.
Only after hosting a dinner party for regular lottery players in the town, do they discover the lucky chap. You see, it turns out, Ned Devine was a no-show at their soiree. While trying to deliver leftovers, Jackie discovers that Ned has met his maker, but not before signing the back of his winning ticket.
The fun really begins as Jackie and Michael plot to claim the winnings from the lottery commission by posing as the deceased Mr. Devine. Eventually, they are forced to enlist the help of the local townsfolk in order to convince the lottery representative that Michael is, in fact, Ned. Hilarity ensues.
Ian Bannen almost single-handedly carries this film through its raucous 91 minutes. Almost, because he is helped along by a fine supporting cast. But it is clear, nonetheless, that he was made for this role. You may recognize Bannen from his role as the Leper in Braveheart. Frankly, I am not sure which of the two was the better performance.
This widescreen transfer from Fox was quite crisp. Colors were vivid and well saturated throughout the film. Black level is just right. However, this transfer is not without its problems. I noticed some small contrast problems in brightly lit scenes. That said, this transfer is better than most that have not been enhanced anamorphically.
The soundtrack is delivered through Dolby Surround, which is fine for a film of this nature. It really isn't necessary to incur the extra expense of a full 5.1 soundtrack during the production of a simple comedy. I certainly have no problem with Fox not re-mastering the original soundtrack simply for a DVD release. The dialogue driven track does its job quite nicely with well-centered and easily discernible discourse. There is little, if any, use of surround or subwoofer channels, which is not a problem for this type of movie.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
For a film of this quality, Fox should have delivered the goods in terms of extras. Unfortunately, we are only treated to the original theatrical trailer and cast bios (that are not mentioned on the keep case label). I really would have enjoyed a commentary track or two discussing the behind-the-scenes aspect of this film. Particularly, I would like to hear more about how this film ever got made in a town that continually pumps out films like Armageddon.
This outstanding film really is a must-see. While the marketing of Waking Ned Devine did not lure me to the theater, hopefully it did you. If not, you owe it to yourself to at least rent this hilarious comedy. It is much more refined and kind-hearted than the There's Something About Marys of the world.
Waking Ned Devine is acquitted on all counts. Fox is convicted in yet another case of studios assuming a comedy does not warrant any supplementary materials.
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