When Ned Devine dies from shock after winning the lottery, two longtime friends, Micheal and Jackie, discover the body and agree Ned would want them to benefit from his good luck. They embark upon an outrageous scheme to claim the ticket but first they have to get all the townsfolk to go along with their plan!
When local wag Jackie O'Shea (Ian Bannen) discovers that one of his neighbors in the village of Tulaigh Mohr is a lottery winner he sees a chance to share in the wealth. Things get complicated when Jackie and his pal Michael O'Sullivan (David Kelly) discover that the winner, Ned Devine, died of shock at the very moment he learned of becoming a millionaire. Undaunted, Jackie and Michael dispose of the lucky stiff and hatch a plot to impersonate him and claim the prize. Soon the whole village is involved and the plot rapidly thickens.
This film has been compared to The Full Monty, but it lacks the vein of desperation that added depth to that film. Instead, Waking Ned Devine is closer in tone to classic British comedies like Whisky Galore!, with its cast of eccentrics gleefully conspiring to outwit the authorities. Those with a low tolerance for twinkly eyed Irish charm might be tempted to steer clear, although the movie is saved, for the most part, by its central performances. Bannen is superb as an old man who is clearly hungry for any excitement he can drum up and David Kelly is remarkable as his scrawny sidekick. Kelly has had a long career as a character actor in film and television, but here he has a chance to really let loose. His naked motorcycle ride is a marvelous set piece and in all of his other scenes his twitchy, perfectly timed performance quite simply steals the movie. --Simon Leake