Waking Ned Devine
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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
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One of my very top all-time favorites. If you like light dramedy at all, you will not be disappointed.
Me: Have you ever seen "Waking Ned Devine?"
Him: I don't think so; what's it about?
Me: This old Irish dude who wins the lottery, but then before he can collect, he dies. ...It's a comedy.
(Later, after we watched it, he told me he thought I was being sarcastic, and he was surprised it was actually a comedy.)
This movie is hilarious. A real gem :)
The two main protagonists here are lifelong pals Jackie O'Shea (Ian Bannen) and Michael O'Sullivan (David Kelly - fans of FAWLTY TOWERS will remember him as the bumbling carpenter O'Reilly) - there is nothing in the world they would hesitate to do for each other, with the honesty and love that a long, deep friendship breeds. Jackie is married to Annie (Fionnula Flanagan) - Michael is a widower who is obviously still very much in love with his departed wife (much to the consternation of a precious widow who lives in the village). An inanimate character in the story is the Irish Lottery - many people in the village are regular players, each with his/her own dream of what to do with the winnings, should they fall their way. One morning after a drawing on TV, Jackie discovers that there is a winner in the village, unidentified. He and Michael hatch a scheme to find out the identity of the lucky party and make sure they are fast friends with them - when they discover that their old friend Ned Devine is the winner, they assume their job will be an easy one. There's a small catch - Ned died of shock when he realized that he had hit the jackpot. The rest of the film revolves around Jackie's newly-revised scheme - sure that he's doing what Ned would have wanted, he is determined to convince the man from the Lotto that Ned is alive. Let the shenanigans and general hilarity begin - along with some genuinely touching emotional moments, and more than a little drama and suspense.
We are treated to a wonderful cast of characters the likes of which is rare in a comedic film - each and every one of them is so very well-developed, and even the ones that display humorous aspects are never presented as caricatures. This is where the respect held by Jones for his story and characters becomes valuable to the point of being a rare, precious thing. The interplay between the various characters is extremely well-drawn. Annie's attempts to coax `the boys' back from a `life of crime and prison' are from her heart - it's easy to see that she loves Michael almost as much as her husband. The on-again-off-again courtship between Pig Finn (James Nesbitt) and Maggie O'Toole (Susan Lynch, who played the Selkie in THE SECRET OF ROAN INNISH) is sweet but never cloying - and Eileen Dromey is absolutely perfectly detestable as `the witch' Lizzy Quinn, whose greed and contempt for her neighbors threatens to throw a spanner into the works for everyone.
If you've managed to miss this gem - don't wait any longer. Since it wasn't a huge box-office smash, it might be a little hard to find for rental - so go ahead and take the plunge and buy a copy. I guarantee you won't want to watch it just once.