Ossus Library Index Comedy Index

WAKING NED DIVINE

Directed by Kirk Jones (1998, 20th Centurey Fox)
Starring Ian Bannen, David Kelly, and Fionnula Flanagan

A couple of men convince their small Irish town to pretend Ned Divine is still alive, so they can collect on the lottery ticket that he won, and which killed him.

 

 

3 stars+

March 19th, 2000 in the Theatre  
   

This was a lot of fun.  I was laughing throughout.  But it was a sly, British, humour, not slapstick.  The old men riding the moped naked through the streets, showing their wrinkles and behinds, to the pig farmer, and his stink, and the chicken dinner that Michael thinks is intestines, are all a type of humour that the British do best.

The story goes from funny, to silly, to insane.  The two men who want to befriend the unknown lottery winner set up a chicken dinner to become best friends.  But he doesn't show up, and they can't figure it out.  They've spent so much money on him or her, but nobody has any money. 

They go to Ned's house, because he didn't show up, and find him dead, the winning lottery ticket in his hand, and a smile on his face.  The story is so full of Irish one-liners that it really can't be described. 

The two old men decide to pose as Ned, and the lottery man shows up looking for information.  He tells Michael, who ends up posing as Ned, that he has won over 7 million pounds!  I think Michael nearly died that time, too!  But because Ned signed the back of his ticket, the man has to verify that this is in fact Ned. 

This is when they have to get the town behind the façade.  They make everybody sign a pact that they will say Michael is Ned, in exchange for an equal part of the cheque.  One woman does not.  She is the witch of the town, played perfectly in a battery-operated wheel-car.  She wants ten percent, and they agree to give it to her (without any intention of doing so), otherwise she'd call the lottery commission and tell them about the fraud.

But the lottery man comes again during the funeral for Ned!  So he finds the whole town empty!  He enters the church, just as one of the old men is beginning a eulogy to Ned.  Of course, he changes the name to Michael!  It is so funny to watch as Michael listens to his own eulogy. 

The town gets the cheque, but the witch doesn't get her part of it, so she "drives" out to the local telephone booth, several kilometers up the road, to phone the commission.  One of the best scenes in the movie comes at this point, when the town is saved by a swerving car that catapults the telephone booth, with the witch inside it, over a cliff. 

Truly enjoyable, in a sly way.  It was really fun to watch these good friends banter back and forth, digging themselves deeper and deeper into the mess, until they need the help of the whole town!  And old Ned gets the last laugh, as Maggie, seemingly the only eligible bachelorette in the town, reveals the father of her young son.

 
   

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