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Stag, The

7/10

Stars: Andrew Scott, Hugh O’Conor, Peter McDonald, Brian Gleeson, Andrew Bennett, Michael Legge, Amy Huberman, Marcella Plunkett, Justine Mitchell, Eamonn Hunt, Catherine Walsh, John Kavanagh, Amy De Bhrun

Director: John Butler

True, this pleasant comedy of embarrassment is something of an Irish (fuelled by Guinness rather than with Coors?) riff on The Hangover, following the misadventures of a mixed bunch of men spending an increasingly fraught weekend hiking in the countryside prior to the wedding of theatre set designer Hugh OÂ’Conor and Amy Huberman.

An agreeable touch of acid is introduced by having Huberman’s former lover Andrew Scott agreeing to plan the stag hike; and further comic complications arise because of the bride-to-be’s insistence that her aggressive, obnoxious and demanding brother The Machine – enjoyably played by Peter McDonald -join in on the low jinks…

Co-writer (with McDonald) and director John Butler keep you smiling as well as having you laugh out aloud at scenes like the splendidly silly sight of the hikers-to-be zipping themselves into a tent inside a department store and then finding themselves trapped under canvas.

The group’s experiences under canvas in the Irish countryside (“Five Hobbits heading out of the Shire” says the eminently irritating The Machine), are hardly groundbreaking as the stag party segues into a walking waking nightmare which leaves the hikers stranded wearing nothing but carefully created G-strings made from leaves, tangling with an electrified fence and variously suffering for the audience’s pleasure.

No masterpiece, then, but funny, emotional in all the right places (the best manÂ’s speech is a minor delight), well characterized (the two gay hikers are both called Kevin), McDonaldÂ’s overbearing The Machine does the job perfectly and it's well filmed by Peter Robinson on attractive Irish locations. And while it may not linger long in your memory, The Stag emerges as a minor comic pleasure.

Alan Frank

Ireland 2013. UK Distributor: Arrow Film Distributors. Colour.
94 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 09 Mar 2014