[Screen It]


(1998) (Ian Bannen, David Kelly) (PG)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate *Minor Mild *Minor None
Minor None None None Minor
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Moderate Mild Minor Mild Minor

Comedy: A small Irish town hopes to pass off one of its citizens as the winner of a huge lottery, despite the original winner dying of a heart attack, so that they may claim the multimillion pound prize.
In the small Irish village of Tully More, the locals are buzzing upon hearing that one of their own may have won the national lottery. Jackie O'Shea (IAN BANNEN) and Michael O'Sullivan (DAVID KELLY), two lifelong buddies, immediately set out to discover the identity of the winner, and cozy up to them in hopes of potentially sharing some of the bounty.

With the help of Jackie's wife, Annie (FIONNULA FLANAGAN), the three begin courting the other forty-nine inhabitants of their coastal village. Among them is Pig Finn (JAMES NESBITT), the local pig farmer with a particular odorous problem, his girlfriend Maggie (SUSAN LYNCH), who would marry him to help raise her son, Maurice (ROBERT HICKEY), if not for her complete dislike of pigs, and Mrs. Kennedy (MAURA O'MALLEY) who runs the local post office.

Then again, perhaps it's the town's bitter old spinster, Lizzy Quinn (EILEEN DROMEY), who gets around town on a motorized scooter, Pat Mulligan (FINTAN McKEOWN), who's also courting Maggie and touts himself as a more suitable husband/father than Finn, or even Father Patrick (DERMOT KERRIGAN), a visiting priest.

After spending much of their time, effort and money on wining and dining their neighbors, however, Jackie and Michael discover that one party invitee didn't show. Arriving at the small home of Ned Devine (JIMMY KEOGH), they not only discover that he's holding the winning lottery ticket -- which he's already signed -- but that he also died of a heart attack from the shock of winning.

Knowing that Ned has no family and that the money will consequently go back to the lottery board, Jackie and Michael decide to have the latter pose as the late winner and collect the prize. Upon the arrival of Jim Kelly (BRENDAN F. DEMPSEY), the lotto representative from Dublin, however, they find that the prize is much larger than they realized -- nearly seven million pounds -- and that they'll need the help of everyone in Tully More -- with whom they'll split the winnings -- to pull off their scam.

Upon hearing about how funny, charming and delightful this film is, older teens may want to see it, but it's certainly not a film most will have high on their "must see" list.
For nudity, language and thematic elements.
  • IAN BANNEN and DAVID KELLY play the two old friends who decide they shouldn't let a winning lottery ticket go to waste and then plan to deceive the lottery board to collect the winnings.
  • FIONNULA FLANAGAN plays Jackie's wife who initially wants to find the winner, then despises Jackie and Michael's plan, but finally goes along with it.
  • SUSAN LYNCH plays the town's single mom who won't identity her boy's father (even to him), and must choose between several suitors.
  • JAMES NESBITT plays the local pig farmer who wants to marry Maggie despite her objection to his smell and profession.
  • EILEEN DROMEY plays an old spinster who doesn't get along with anyone in the town.


    OUR TAKE: 9 out of 10
    Whenever a film opens with a shot that pans across outer space, focuses on Earth and comments about everything being right in the universe, it's immediately obvious that what will follow will be some sort of sci-fi epic, or else a disarming film that clearly doesn't take itself seriously.

    Definitely falling into the latter category, "Waking Ned Devine" is a charming, entertaining, and occasionally outrageous delight. Easily positioned to be this year's "The Full Monty," and with the right touch at marketing this little film, Fox Searchlight Pictures may just have a sleeper hit on their hands. We think it's one of the year's best.

    Some lottery-based films such as "It Could Happen To You" spend their time focusing on what happens after the ticket is "cashed." This film, however, revels in the antics of several older Irish villagers trying to find out who won the lottery and then mounting an ever increasingly complex plan to keep the winnings in their village -- all before the winning ticket is presented.

    Despite the characters' obvious attempts at fraud, you can't help but overlook their "indiscretions" simply due to the charming and zany atmosphere that permeates the entire film and those characters.

    While I must admit I've got a thing for films set in Ireland (perhaps due to a small percentage of blood coming from that land -- and despite the usual need to become acclimated to the often thick accents), this film doesn't condescendingly take that setting and simply play off its stereotypes.

    Instead, the deeply, but comically drawn characters and the straightforward story easily could have been set anywhere -- but it's doubtful they could have been as nicely complemented as they are by the Irish locales and characters.

    Although the story isn't overly complex and doesn't prevent a myriad of twists, turns, and complications, there's just enough of that present to make all of the proceedings highly enjoyable and the film always feels bright and clever.

    Playing off the common belief that the next best thing to winning the lottery itself is being good friends with the person who does, the film starts off with a deceptively funny opening that is then followed by many cute, charming and often hilarious moments where our two protagonists attempt to "court" their friends and neighbors.

    Dining -- and particularly wining -- the rest of the villagers, the two try their best to out the winner's identity, but quickly realize they're coming up empty handed. Upon finding the deceased winner, however, the humor really starts to take off. First, there's a quite funny scene where Jackie tries to remove (actually reshape) the frozen death grin on the winner's face, while Michael is preoccupied with stepping on something on the floor that causes him to think that the dead man is "melting."

    Then there's an absolutely outrageous sequence where the sixty-something Michael desperately tries to outrace the lottery official back to the dead man's home -- all while riding a minibike sans any clothes -- which is one of the funnier sight gags and moments you'll see in the movies this year.

    Beyond the clever and well-executed plot, what makes the film work so well are the delightful performances and the actors and actresses who deliver them. While not exactly playing the "Grumpy Old Men" of Matthau and Lemmon fame, actors Ian Bannen and David Kelly may just become the next well-known senior citizen comedy team, and are as good and possibly even more enjoyable than their better-known counterparts.

    Similarly playing lifelong friends, the characters' chemistry together is perfect and always believable. Bannen ("Braveheart," many TV movies), who closely resembles an Irish version of Lemmon, is very funny as a man who obviously has too much spare time on his hands, while Kelly ("The Matchmaker") is his gangly and gawky counterpart who will no doubt please audiences with his inspired performance.

    Writer and director Kirk Jones -- who makes an amazing debut with this film -- also populates the small town with enough other diverse characters to add even more humor to the proceedings, as well as some decent subplots.

    From Susan Lynch (the TV mini series "Ivanhoe") and James Nesbitt ("Welcome to Sarajevo") as pig-crossed lovers, and Fionnula Flanagan ("Some Mother's Son") as Jackie's grounded and occasionally miffed wife, to Eileen Dromey (making her debut) as the old spinster with greedy plans of her own, the supporting cast is nicely drawn and developed. Even much smaller roles, such as that of Maggie's son and a visiting priest are well-done and always enjoyable.

    Jones has also wisely added some nice touching moments to complement, as well as round off the film's occasionally, but only slightly morbid humor. With a hilarious ending straight out of an old Monty Python skit, luscious coastal scenery, a fun score, and a clever plot and even better characters, this little film is a big delight in nearly every way possible.

    With an outside shot at the wildcard entry in the Oscar race (like last year's "The Full Monty" amidst the more "serious" competition), this small, but charming and highly entertaining film is simply one of the best, and easily one of the most enjoyable films of the year. We give "Waking Ned Devine" a 9 out of 10.

    Here's a quick look at the film's content. Several glimpses of older male nudity (mostly rear, but some brief and distant glimpses of full frontal) occur, but only for laughs. A moderate amount of drinking also occurs during the film, and the men's, and later the town's deceitful plan shows some bad attitudes (but again is played for laughs).

    Profanity consists mainly of religious terms used as exclamations, and there's some brief talk concerning the identity of the father of a single mother's son. Beyond some mild smoking and some slightly morbid material used for humor, the rest of the film's categories have little or no major objectionable material. Even so, you may want to take a closer look at what we've listed if you're concerned about the film's appropriateness.

    Of special note for those concerned with bright flashing lights on the screen, a few moments of that occur, but they're brief and don't rapidly follow one another.

  • Some locals drink in the pub.
  • Mrs. Kennedy has a glass of champagne.
  • Jackie and Michael take Finn to the pub where they have beer. While they don't readily appear so, it's later commented that they were somewhat drunk.
  • Jackie, Michael and Annie pour people drinks (whiskey, wine, etc...) at a chicken dinner/party trying to find out who won the lottery. Later, Michael appears somewhat intoxicated from this.
  • Meeting with the lottery official, Michael has several small glasses of whiskey.
  • Jackie, Michael and Annie have shots of liquor for those (including Finn) who sign an agreement of theirs.
  • Locals drink in the pub, and then do so again after a funeral.
  • Later, the townspeople are drinking again.
  • Jackie, Michael and some others have liquor for a toast to Ned.
  • We do see Ned's dead body, although other than being dead, there's nothing bloody nor gory about it.
  • While it is played for laughs, Jackie and Michael's plan is to defraud the lottery by having Michael pose as the deceased winner, and they then get everyone in their town to go along with their ruse. Nonetheless, none of it's done in a meanspirited manner.
  • Some may also see the film using a dead man, as well as the apparent demise of the town's hated spinster, for comedy as having something of both attitudes.
  • Although it's not said to be disrespectful, some viewers may not like Maurice (Maggie's son) telling the visiting priest that he couldn't work for someone (God) that he hasn't met and for which he doesn't get paid.
  • Lizzy gets greedy and wants more money than everyone's equal share or she'll turn in each and every one of them.
  • The sight of Ned's dead body -- while never gross and usually played for humor -- may be unsettling to some viewers.
  • None.
  • Phrases: "Ballocks," "Geez," "Piss off" and "Shut up."
  • Jackie, Michael, and the rest of the town try to pass off Michael as Ned Devine so that they can fool the lottery official.
  • Jackie and Michael -- two old men -- go skinny dipping.
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 1 "ass," and 6 uses of "Jesus," 5 of "For God's sakes," 3 of "Dear God," 2 each of "God" and "Sweet Jesus," and 1 use each of "For Christ's sakes," "Holy Mother of God," "God in Heaven," "Oh Lord" and "Oh God" as exclamations.
  • We see the bare butts of both Jackie and Michael as they walk toward the sea to go skinny dipping.
  • We then see Michael's bare butt as well as brief full frontal nudity (from a distance) as he rides Jackie's motorbike nude back to Ned's house (played for laughs).
  • Maggie's a single mother and she doesn't confess -- until the end of the film -- the identity of her son's father (obviously implying a previous encounter).
  • Thinking her husband may be going to prison for fraud, Annie tells Jackie, "This may be your last night here for ten years" and he amorously replies, "Well, let's not spend it sleeping."
  • Michael smokes several times during the film, while Pat smokes once and we see Maurice (Maggie's son) smoking a cigar at a party.
  • Jackie and Annie have some initial disagreements over the men's plan.
  • Maggie's a single mother and she doesn't confess -- until the end of the film -- the identity of the father.
  • The lottery.
  • Trying to defraud for the sake of personal financial fortune.
  • Annie smacks Jackie after he makes her think they've won the lottery when in reality he just wanted her to bring him some food.
  • Although it's accidental and obviously played for laughs, a woman and the telephone booth she's in are both knocked by a car over a cliff where they crash onto the ground below (we don't know the fate of the woman, although it's presumed she's dead).

  • Reviewed October 9, 1998 / Posted on December 11, 1998

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