The Young Offenders (2016) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

Director: Peter Foott
Writer: Peter Foott
Stars: Alex Murphy,  Chris Walley,  Hilary Rose

Conor MacSweeney and Jock Murphy are two teenage boys who Round the coast of Southern Ireland on stolen bikes pursued by determined Sergeant Healy played by Dominic MacHale who wants to uncover bike thief “Fake Billy” who is Jock in a Billy Murphy (Shane Casey) mask. Conor and Jock want to find a missing bale of cocaine worth 7 million Euro. Which is based on a  real event of Ireland’s biggest cocaine seizure in 2007 of 440 million Euro.

The Young Offenders is a brilliant and really funny film set in Cork. The main focus is on the two 15 year old characters of Conor and Jock who despite 90% of the time are calling each other every profanity under the sun, their is real sense of friendship and looking out for each other in the movie. Conor lives and works in a butchers with his mum Mairead. Jock on the other hand is a loose canon at times and this may have something to do with his abusive Father that makes him act the way that he does.

Alex Murphy as Conor MacSweeney portrays the character as the one who is slightly more stable than his friend and Murphy has a natural comedic timing in delivering his lines and for me was the star of the show. What adds to this is surprisingly Murphy at the time of writing this has only one acting credit to his name (this movie)

Chris Walley as Jock Murphy to me was very maniacal playing this role and the chase scene on the stolen bike through Cork being chased by actor Dominic MacHale was probably the best sequence in the film. It had some great action shots combining Walley’s one liners and this is where we discover “Fake Billy” is known around these parts as Jock cycles furiously past all his (or Fake Billy’s) fans. Walley just like Alex Murphy has natural comedic timing and delivery, but there is also another side of Jock that Chris Walley should be commended for and that is his portrayal of a young man who is being abused by his Father. Walley channels this and shows great range for the audience to be able to capture why he is who he is and why he does the things he does.

It shouldn’t be ignored that both Murphy and Walley have a natural comedic chemistry between them and perhaps they know each other away from film. But for both of these young actors who have never appeared in anything before is quite impressive.

PJ Gallagher was hilarious as Ray the Drug Dealer. Gallagher only appears in the final third of the movie but portrays the character in a really funny yet unhinged manner. Director Peter Foott I felt used the character sparingly. This isn’t a criticism, I thought Ray was used perfectly and although you want to see more of PJ Gallagher, I’m glad he wasn’t shoehorned in for the sake of it.

Hilary Rose who plays Mairead was the foundation of the storyline and although comes across cold at times with Conor managed to show although a young mother (she was 16 years old when she had Conor) herself a maturity that her son required at times. Rose doesn’t have much to do throughout the movie other than call Conor a name or two and then roll the eyes. It was in the third act that we see Mairead shine and stand up for her son.

I would have liked to have saw more from actors Dominic MacHale and Shane Casey in the movie but I understand they served their purpose and every scene they were in was enjoyable to watch.

Director Peter Foott manages to cram in humour, adventure and drama into “The Young Offenders” very limited running time of 83 minutes. Foott appears to be proud to show off the beautiful coastline of Southern Ireland as most of the action either takes place here or in the countryside. Foott really captures the scenery well and should also be commended for his direction on the action sequences that where really well put together and also manages to drop in little bits of humour along the way during these sequences.

I really enjoyed this film and what makes it enjoyable is that we are not bogged down with the darker tones of the movie (as in the drugs or physical abuse) the movie deals with these matters perfectly but doesn’t become preachy at any point. The characters are fleshed out enough to understand and root for them. The other part I like about this movie is it is genuinely made by Irish people for the Irish people. The strong thick Cork accents aren’t watered down and this adds to the enjoyment on how much care was invested in keeping with the tone of the film.

I highly recommend “The Young Offenders” if you are looking for a daft but charming short movie that will tickle you and those 83 minutes will go in so fast.

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