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Waking Ned Devine Reviews

Destined to be a crowd-pleaser though it may be, this collection of Irish quirks and "charm" tied together by a slender plot also leans heavily in the direction of predigested commercial claptrap. Lifelong buddies and loyal lotto players Jackie (Ian Bannen) and Michael (David Kelly), residents of the picturesque village of Tullymore, fight off impending dotage by riding around like demons on their motorbike and taking dips in the icy sea off the Irish coast. When Jackie discovers that some lucky Tullymoran has hit the jackpot, he becomes obsessed with unmasking the winner. At the risk of revealing too much, the movie's central conceit is that the reason the winner hasn't come forward isn't greedy determination to keep his winnings to himself, but rather that he keeled over and died at the shock of such incredible good luck. That would be Ned Devine, of course. The wily Jackie can't bear the thought of such a large purse going to waste, so he decides -- with the cooperation of his neighbors -- to pull the wool over the eyes of the Lotto Man (Brendan Dempsey) sent to scrutinize the claim. The only snag is ill-tempered town crank Lizzy (Eileen Dromey), who demands a king's ransom to play along. Writer-director Kirk Jones makes an exceedingly slick debut, peopling his story with characters who border on the hackneyed but are generally so engagingly played -- especially the naughty Jackie -- that he gets away with it more often than not. If Jones' tendency toward button pushing and fabricated bonhomie wears on the nerves, the resplendent images of Ireland and a smidgen of genuine black humor often compensate. Jones could have done worse than to fashion this slight entertainment, but it's also clear that he could do much better.