Star Rating:

The Stag

Director: John Butler

Actors: Andrew Bennett, Peter McDonald, Andrew Scott, Amy Huberman

Release Date: Saturday 30th November 2013

Genre(s): Factual

Running time: 92 minutes

Hugh O’Connor’s effeminate Fionnan - that’s Finn-awn - is too wrapped up in his upcoming nuptials to think about a stag so fiancée Amy Huberman convinces best man Andrew Scott to take him away for the weekend. Rounding up Fionnan’s brother Kevin (Michael Legge), Kevin’s partner (Andrew Bennett) and friend Simon (Gleeson), everyone agrees that it’s best to keep the camping trip secret from Huberman’s brother - loose cannon The Machine (McDonald). However, find out The Machine does and he invites himself on the camping trip, threatening to derail the weekend …

Liking or disliking this largely amiable comedy depends solely on how you take Peter McDonald (Moone Boy, Paths To Freedom). The Stag begins as a quiet O’Connor/Scott bromance, but once the abrasive ‘Machine’ turns up he dominates the rest of the movie with most of the humour coming from the gang’s reactions to his outlandish statements (the gay couple are the focus of taunting) and actions (the casual tossing Scott’s compass into a pond). Given free rein McDonald does come up with the laughs, like his total disgust that an Irishman (Gleeson) is not a fan of U2 and his grapple with an electric fence.

Those in the nay camp will be put off by The Machine’s incessant abuse - he’s not Leslie Mann in Knocked Up but he’s in the neighbourhood. Thankfully, Butler and McDonald (who co-writes and produces) do soften his rough edges to hint at a tortured soul behind the obnoxiousness and he eventually dissolves into the background as the O’Connor/Scott bromance takes centre stage again.

The Stag sometimes follow the principles of comedy all too closely - there shall and must be a drug scene, a group confessional bonding scene, a nudity scene, etc - but the latter, expected as it may be, turns out to be one of the movie’s highlights. Despite McDonald’s dominance it’s Andrew Scott, given the character with most depth, that shines. He can carry a tune too, giving On Raglan Road the full gun.

Ripe for an American remake it might be but do the decent thing and go see this version.