POLE POSITION Eddie (Martin Maloney, right) and Frenchtoast (Peter Cassidy) in Poznan, Poland
Bucks on the big screen
THREE days before the start of Euro 2012, I attended a house party in the Netherlands and asked a man just returned from India: “What’s the strangest thing that happened to you?” He proceeded to tell me about the time he saw a halo around a man’s head, something which he later attributed to wearing an object which represented his ‘third eye’, and the time he heard singing through the ventilator while meditating.
It was a memorable evening, but paled in comparison to what another group of Mayo lads experience on a trip to Amsterdam en route to the football in Poland. The group concerned are those behind ‘The Hardy Bucks Movie’, a Universal Studios picture made with the assistance of the Irish Film Board in association with RTÉ.
Having begun life online, Swinford’s best-known inhabitants have now made the move from small to big screen. Facing another boring summer in Castletown, Eddie (Martin Maloney) convinces his buddies – Frenchtoast (Peter Cassidy), Buzz (Owen Colgan), Boo (Tom Kilgallon) and Salmon (Michael Salmon) – to join him in a drive across Europe in time for the Ireland-Italy game.
Running up a huge tab during a night on the town in Holland, they’re forced to smuggle drugs into Poland. They end up meeting their nemesis The Viper (Chris Tordoff), who has match tickets and a camper-van but no company, his minions having tired of his lengthy list of dos and don’ts.
‘The Hardy Bucks Movie’ is at its best on home ground. The script – co-written by Gerry Greaney and director Mick Cockayne – superbly encapsulates the stifling confinement and often surreal nature of rural Ireland. A couple are offered and accept tea while loudly making love. There’s an argument about whether soccer should take precedence over sex. At a funeral home, Eddie hands Salmon a card containing €5 and asks of the deceased woman: “How is she?”
There are solid laughs in the opening sequence, a football match which includes a penalty preceded by a forward roll, competing bribes for the referee (hash versus pints), and the dangers of playing while sober.
Some of the best scenes involve preparations for the road trip. Eddie’s uncle, a veteran of Euro ’88 described as ‘a cross between Liam Neeson and Samuel Beckett’, provides the van in which they’ll travel – a vehicle with no reverse gear and which can’t go above 50. In a bid to fund the journey, Eddie claims to have suffered a neck injury falling over turkeys in the supermarket, but the doctor’s suggestion of an x-ray halts that plan in its tracks.
Though the flick is more uneven thereafter, those of us who made the journey to Poland can’t help but feel a tinge of nostalgia at some of the sights of Poznan. Buzz even sports a Mayo jersey. Although he does have to deal with drug dealers, he avoids the terrifying sight a random Polish stranger running up to kiss the county crest on his shirt (as happened to me).
It goes without saying that ‘The Hardy Bucks Movie’ will not be everyone’s cup of tea. Boo conducts explicit market research. Salmon uses a sex toy as a hitch-hiking aid. Some of the rhyming slang is pretty crude. This 16-certified film is not for those who object to nudity, masturbation jokes or what used to be called ‘bad language’.
So detractors won’t be converted. Fans, one suspects, will lap it up. And though we end up with a mixed bag, there’s enough laughs here to warrant a cinema trip for those in the middle ground.
Rating 6 out of 10