This big screen adaptation of the RTE series takes up where the last episode left off: Northside scanger Damo (Quirke) and Foxrock collars up Ivor (also Quirke), identical twins separated at birth, are at last reunited under Grano's (McCabe) roof. But there's a surprise in the offing: Grano reveals that there was a third brother, John Joe (Quirke again), a traveller who dabbles in bare knuckle boxing. The boys rent/steal a van and, with the fam and pals in tow, take off in search…
As with all these things there are two big questions. The first is, does it work on the big screen or is it just an expanded episode? Quirke, who wrote the screenplay with long-time collaborator Jules Coll, doesn't break from what's expected of a cinema release of a popular series: take the tone that has served them well and bring it on a road trip, or introduce a new character to change things up. Damo & Ivor does both and still the film creaks and moans as it tries to pull itself over the line.
The second question is the most important: Is it funny? Laughs are hard fought for with the broad humour relying solely on the shallow characterisations of Northsiders, Southsiders, and the travelling community; Quirke may catch some flak with the depiction of the latter but he'll probably point out that he's just as obvious with Damo and Ivor as he is with John Joe. The jokes are usually sex-based and bottom-influenced (there are two masturbation gags in the opening ten minutes) and the shouty cast fall back on exclaiming ‘F**K!!’ when in doubt.
Despite the simple set up the plot still tends to get distracted from the job at hand. Along the way the gang bump into Simon Delaney and his scam-riddled funfair; Damo winds up working for him for a spell in the hope of impressing the carny to the extent that Damo can date Delaney’s daughter (Rebecca Grimes). Then there’s the trip to the beach where they inexplicably bump into gurning raver Lockjaw Jason (Graeme Singleton). There are also a number of mini sequences that exist purely for gag purposes that the script chunkily segues into.
But Quirke and co. know what they're about here. Quirke's been at this since 2011 and can move between characters at will; while his creations lean on cliché the writer-actor displays a talent of disguising himself with Damo, Ivor and John Joe looking and sounding nothing like each other. The teary finale allows him to stretch his dramatic chops too. The story, despite the diversions, bustles with energy and there's always something happening. The Burke brothers (Standby) are too dab hands, having directed the second season of the series. Their split screen stuff is seamless.