The Young Offenders: Review

Directed by: Peter FoottStarring: Alex Murphy, Chris Walley, Hillary Rose, Dominic McHale, and PJ GallagherRelease Date: 16th September 2016[br]This is a tale about growing up. It would be the worst disservice imaginable to leave the summary there though, because The Young Offenders is also a fantastic, flowing comedy adventure about two troubled teenagers who set off to get-rich-quick, by finding a missing bale of cocaine worth €7,000,000. It’s based on a true story, and it is hilarious.The film isn’t precious about its introductions: the characters are introduced through jokes, without feeling clichéd or forced. Conor MacSweeney (Murphy), our narrator, is introduced wanking in bed. Jock (Walley), his delinquent, bicycle-stealing friend and Garda Healy (McHale), the tragically bicycle-theft obsessed Garda who pursues him, are first seen racing through Cork. In the first five minutes you are grounded in their world: a working-class world of unhappy people.The effortless rapport between Murphy and Walley keeps this film on track. Their dialogue and childlike musings are not only the source of comedy for much of the first half, but also the reason the adventure takes off in the first place. One can’t help but like them. In the words of PJ Gallagher (the film’s token northsider drug dealer) “it’s a celebration of stupidity,” and it’s a joyous one. While doubting them at every turn, they seem to succeed by dumb luck with necks like the proverbial jockey’s bollocks.While the jokes and the crass humour are involving, realistic violence and human suffering occasionally shatter one’s immersion in the dream-like quality of their world, but this speaks volumes about the lives of the two teens. It is never glossed over, but it does fade in to the background, much like a teenager might wilfully ignore what he does not like. It only serves to deepen one’s affection for the characters, while reminding us of the true dangers they are so ignorant of.Themes and events come full circle but like with any good adventure film, they feel different having lived through it. The life lessons that are imparted are no more profound than those which might be found in any other coming-of-age drama or comedy, but they stick because the characters are so perfectly made real for us. The film doesn’t step outside itself or try to do much. It tells one story and it tells it well.It’s almost Spike Milligan-esque the way in that so many silly, predictable and familiar threads tie together into a satisfying ending. It is a credit to the whole cast and crew.The film’s jokes rarely fall flat, but occasionally its direction does. The film leads the characters into the grips of unusually sad situations, and while it gels very well and was put together with care, there’s an unwanted sense of hopelessness to it. But beyond this single fault, this film did not fail to surprise and delight, one that will be hard to forget.In A Nutshell: A fun, fresh teenage adventure film with all of the crude humour and Cork accents you could want.