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IN SHORT: An import that doesn't survive the trip across the Pond. [Not Rated. 95 minutes]
Roddy Doyle is the writer responsible for both the novels and screen adaptations of The Commitments, The Snapper and The Van. We've seen 'em all and, regardless of whether we raved or snored, we were always able to understand better than 95% of the accents in each story. That, unfortunately, is not the case in When Brendan Met Trudy, an homage to every significant romantic film ever made from the title to the end credits, with accents too thick to comprehend and slang that hasn't crossed the Pond.
We also got tired of Doyle and director Kieron J. Walsh's insistence on using each homage twice, so they could document which great old film they were lifting from, just in case you didn't know. Personally, we got some of the references. We didn't get others and we would have been more than content to research the bits on a well built website [which isn't the case either]. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
When we first meet Brendan (Peter McDonald), he is face down in a puddle, trying to win sympathy from the woman who just told him to disappear from her life. As we slip into Sunset Boulevard mode, we learn that Brendan is a school teacher, and a thoroughly boring one at that. His students disrespect him, he has no social life and barely hangs with the gang from the church choir. Brendan has a lovely tenor voice, in the classic Irish style and that, combined with a love for most things black and white, is the sum of his life. Until, for unknown reasons that should have a good Catholic man get down on his knees and thank Jesus, he is hit upon by a firecracker of a dame called Trudy (Flora Montgomery). As dim-witted as he is about women, Brendan still manages to make a date with Trudy. Trudy, as with everything else that goes wrong in his life, decides that she doesn't want to see "an important Polish movie" and stands him up.
That would be the end of it, save that Brendan's loving mother (Marie Mullen) and incredibly annoying sister Nuala (Pauline McLynn) want him to spend New Year's Eve with them. Begging off, Brendan says he has a date -- which means he'd better track down Trudy, or else. Of course they finally pair up and, in the mode of all romantic comedies, they're as different as night and day, right down to the stunning revelation that Trudy is not the Montessori schoolteacher she professes to be!
No, we're not going to spill that because there's enough positive in Roddy Doyle's script that we're not exactly sure that we're missing the boat, just because Montgomery's lilt and use of slang was impossible for us to follow. Their relationship leads to more thrills and excitement than most men could handle, including a riot, a trial, and a Nigerian immigrant named Edgar (Maynard Eziashi).
Heck, when you find out what you find out about Trudy, that in itself is more than most could handle. Then again, Trudy is also providing the "best sex in [Brendan's] life". We're guessing that it is just about the only sex, too.
Most of that positive energy in When Brendan Met Trudy comes in the form of throwaway gag lines by the supporting characters. The jokes all come out of nowhere and all of them had us laughing. The negatives: that Brendan is a mopey dishrag of a character who never generates any screen sparks with Trudy -- you can write it, but you can't make it happen if the actors can't play it -- and the relentless use of clips and dialog lifted from the classics took all the fun out of it.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to When Brendan Met Trudy, he would have paid . . .
There is enough funny stuff in When Brendan Met Trudy that, with the liberal use of a remote control, we may have been able to make it through the dialog. Rules of the site allow only one view, so we're putting this in the rental category.
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