Written by: Peter Barnes
Directed by: John Henderson
Starring: Randy Quaid, Colm Meaney, Orla Brady, Roger Daltrey, Whoopi Goldberg
- Featurette: Leprechauns: Making of the Magic
- Crew interviews
- Production notes
- Leprechaun lore
- Cast and crew biographies and filmographies
Released by: Artisan
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1.
My Advice: Rent The Commitments instead.
Jack Woods (Quaid), a harried, stressed-out corporate executive, is in Ireland scouting out likely places to build vacation homes for other harried, stressed-out corporate executives. What he finds is a beautiful land, a beautiful girl, Kathleen (Brady), and leprechauns. After saving the head of the local leprechaun clan Seamus Muldoon (Meaney), Jack is let in to a secret magical world of leprechauns, trooping fairies, and various other magical creatures. And these magical creatures are about to go to war. Seamus’ son and the trooping fairy king Boric’s (Daltrey) daughter have fallen in love in accordance to the principles of Narrative Causality. Of course this gives the leprechauns and the trooping fairies a great excuse to massacre each other. And Nature is falling apart because of it. Can Jack and Kathleen with the Grand Banshee’s (Goldberg) help stop the war and keep The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns alive?
I should start by saying that any diabetics need to have their insulin handy when watching this disc. Now I’m not a bitter misanthrope–I think sweetness in family entertainment can be done well–just look at any classic Disney film for an example. But this unholy mix of Yuppie Redemption and yet another retelling of Romeo and Juliet tries way too hard at being heartwarming and epic at the same time. And with scenes like the powerful Grand Banshee with hair curlers and a facial mask on or the heroes discovering oil even though the whole show has been about the importance of maintaining nature–these just leave you scratching your head.
The cinematography is beautiful and the special effects are passable for television, true, but these hardly make up for the film’s faults. Quaid does a good job of playing the ordinary man trying to cope with extraordinary circumstances and Whoopi gives a low-key performance and doesn’t try to put one over the top Irish brogue. I just feel so sorry for Colm Meaney. I guess all “ethnic” actors, at one time or another, have played a cultural stereotype: the Asian camera-festooned tourist, the British snobby uptight royal, and of course the black or Hispanic gang member. But you have to feel sorry for the Irish when they are stuck with the role of a two feet tall fairy. Meaney is capable of so much more, even playing a non-caricature Irishman like Chief O’Brien in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. But what can you expect from a piece of blarney like this?
The features left me underwhelmed. The behind the scenes featurette has the cast talking about how difficult it was to act on a blue-screened set or to a character that would be added in post-production. There is also a little discussion of how the effects are done, but this kind of material has been done many times before and a lot better. The interviews of the cast and crew are equally rehashed with comments about their roles and how wonderful it is to work on something with such an epic scope. The article on Leprechaun Lore was informative, but it shows that the film freely reinterpreted the legends to suit the script.
While they get points for effort, if you are interested in good family entertainment or a good film on Ireland, I’d avoid this if I were you.