Man About Dog
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Paddy Breathnach
scr Pearse Elliott
with Allen Leech, Ciaran Nolan, Tom Jordan Murphy, Sean McGinley, Pat Shortt, Fionnula Flanagan, Selva Rasalingam, Billy Roche, Martin Rogan, Nicholas Cruz
release Ireland 1.Oct.04, UK 19.Nov.04
04/Ireland 1h28

Dumb, dumber and dumberer: Murphy, Leech and Nolan


Man About Dog This bumbling caper romp from Ireland owes quite a lot to British crime comedies like Trainspotting and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels--namely the hip sensibility combined with quick-fire editing, sardonic narration and a bunch of hapless antiheroes at the centre. No matter how watchable it is, we've seen it all before.

When compulsive dog-track gambler Mo Chara (Leech) and his mates--accident-prone dimwit Scud (Nolan) and clueless stoner Paulsy (Murphy)--cross the local bookie thug (McGinley) in their Belfast neighbourhood, they have to escape to the Irish Republic with only a shy greyhound named Cerberus as company. Cerberus doesn't seem very good at running, so Scud sells him to a gypsy (Shortt) for a quick profit. Then they realise the dog's a natural born hare courser. Mo Chara means "my friend" in Garlic, but honestly, with friends like these....

Breathnach directs the film with lots of energy and a lively sense of humour--the film is entertaining, but the style feels rather old and tired. (Note: Trainspotting was eight years ago.) And it's very hard to root for this trio of charming losers who just do one boneheaded thing after another--Spud and especially Paulsy are beyond useless, so besides some sense of childhood loyalty we can't understand why Mo Chara links his fate to theirs. Although even he's capable of lapses of judgement that are beyond belief.

That said, the acting is very good, especially from Leech, who gives the film a sense of purpose at the centre. McGinley and Shortt are standard relentless brutes, and Flanagan has a witty cameo as a vengeful widow. They all make the film quite watchable, although our patience is really tested during the frequent forays into Dumb & Dumber territory. The script, which at least avoids Irish stereotyping, never even tries to make the plot work logically--this is just silly fluff from the start. It's so undemanding and predictable that only people who haven't seen 10 or 20 of these kinds of films will really enjoy it. There's also something vaguely offensive about a film that uses gambling addiction as a mere plot point.

cert 15 themes, language, vulgarity, sex, nudity 19.Oct.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Man About Dog Philip Gray, Dublin: 2/5 "characterisation: weak. plot: boneheaded. speed: breakneck. film director's ambitions: vulgar. lager-lout filmmaking at its most inane, and stylistically so derivative it borders on plagiarism of a type." (27.Mar.05)
2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall