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Review: Disney Channel’s Original Movie “The Luck of the Irish”

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In 2001, Disney Channel released “The Luck of the Irish” direct to TV. The movie was largely unsuccessful, there were no breakout performances in the cast or spin-off series. However, “The Luck of the Irish” gained a cult following for being absurd, entertaining, and existing in a Holiday slot which few other movies occupy, Saint Patrick’s Day.

I found that many people actually didn’t remember the plot of “The Luck of the Irish” (to be honest I can’t blame them, it’s so convoluted that it made Inception seem simple), but claim that it was great merely on the basis of this Disney Channel Original Movie being “their childhood.” So, for the purpose of review, here is a summary of the leprechaun thriller:

Junior High basketball star, Kyle Johnson, gets through life by sheer luck. He aces every test, and he’s somehow a basketball prodigy for being, at most, 14. He has two close friends despite being the biggest jerk to both of them. But most importantly, he’s “from Ohio.” While working on a heritage festival at school, he gets angry at his friends, insisting that he find out where his family comes from. They all go to an Irish festival in the area, and Kyle gets the lucky coin lifted off him and, suddenly, he and his mom start turning into leprechauns. He shrinks (even more than he was before) and his mother starts making only Irish food and shrinks to only a foot tall. It turns out that his grandfather, Reilly O’Reilly is the owner of a potato chip company and there is a mad scramble for the coin. Shennanagins, hijinks, and destruction of several roads, an entire hours worth of potato chips and a golf cart ensue. The story culminates in a leprechaun “game” for the coin, introducing the idea of spacial warping to Ireland, and then also the gym so Kyle can slam dunk on the leprechauns and win his coin back. The heartwarming end is Kyle Irish step dancing in Cleaveland, then saying “we all are from America.” Roll credits.

There are three things that make “Luck of the Irish” so memorable and entertaining. The acting, the “hook,” and the ending. Although we might have shamrock tinted goggles on when watching the movie, it’s important to see it as it is.

The acting is stellar in terms of DCOMS of the early 2000’s, from relative newbies, but the real magic comes from their Irish accents. None of the principle actors seemed to have had an idea that they were going to be playing leprecauns, and therefore each accent is ~painfully~ thick and inconsistent. It makes for a really good watch just to make fun of their deliveries. Kyle and his mother in particular seem completely lost at all times.

The amount of intensity the villain characters give their very small pointy characters is admirable, but I have to take points off for the ending and the horrible use of computer generated imagery of Reilly O’ Reilly turning into a red-haired two foot tall leprechaun that was disgustingly overacted. My favorite character out of all of them is the father, who’s only personality trait is that he is from Ohio and therefore cannot wrap his head around the Irish culture (leprechaun-centric or not). He’s a ray of confused, corn sunshine.

The plot, makes no sense! I think its good as a gag watch, but the moment you start thinking about it for longer than three seconds, the absurdity that the movie clearly tries to gloss over comes out. The movie embraces the weirdness of “leprechaun drama,” but it’s the minor details that supplement the plot that make it truly out of left field. Most specifically, the conflict between Kyle’s dad and his grandfather. Kyle’s grandfather hates Kyle’s father because he’s not Irish or a Leprechaun, which is fine from a plot perspective, but what isn’t explained is why it becomes so severe that the family goes into witness protection, changed their name from Smith to Johnson. But then lived conveniently close enough that Kyle can go to his family’s potato chip company run by his grandfather? It makes little sense, but boy is it entertaining.

The ending of “The Luck of the Irish” is the peak of early 2000’s Disney Channel Original Movies, with an odd talent show and the principal character doing an Irish Jig in Ohio merchandise to show their “acceptance of who they are,” and then, in the weirdest turn of events, everyone starts singing “This Land is Your Land” to celebrate the fact that “we are all Americans on the inside”; the pinnacle of early 2000’s external identity movies!

All in all, “Luck of the Irish” is a trip. For better or for worse, it represents the DCOM supernatural category to the letter. Through it’s weird plot quirks, terrible Irish accents and CGI, and the best clueless dad from Ohio, the “Luck of the Irish” remains as one of the best, if not only, Saint Patrick’s Day movies.

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Review: Disney Channel’s Original Movie “The Luck of the Irish”