Review: The Stag

Written by: Dee Pilgrim

Irishman Peter MacDonald is one of those actors who splits his time between film, theatre (he’s currently appearing in The Weir in London’s West End) and television.

Now he adds another string to his bow by  co-writing and having a hand in producing this quirky little Irish comedy.

Peter MacDonald's The Stag

Set designer Fionnan (Hugh O’Connor) is micro-managing his upcoming wedding to such a degree his best mate and would-be best man Davin (Andrew Scott) fears for his sanity. Fionnan, being a ‘new’ man, has said he doesn’t want a stag do, but Davin and other mate Simon (Brian Gleeson) persuade him to take a break with a walking weekend where they plan to get some fresh air and exercise.

However, Fionnan’s fiancee puts a spanner in the works by insisting they also invite her brother, known simply as ‘The Machine’ (MacDonald). None of them want The Machine along as he has a fearsome reputation for causing trouble, which he duly does within two seconds of joining the party.

What should be a civilised, relaxing jaunt in the country quickly turns into Fionnan’s worst nightmare as the Machine loses their car keys, sets the tent on fire, and gets them well and truly lost. This is before the close encounter with the bull, an even closer encounter with an electric fence, copious drug taking and naked running through the woods and a brief respite for a sing-song around a camp fire.

In fact, it’s a stag do like so many that have already been captured on film and that’s the movie’s big problem; there really is nothing new, original or novel about it – it’s like The Hangover but set in the countryside instead of Vegas.

Apart from the electric fence scene, which really is laugh-out-loud funny, the rest of the proceedings are only mildly amusing as the characters revert to their stereotypes (priggish Fionnan, supportive Davin and mischief-making Machine). There’s nothing offensive about it, but then there’s nothing to set the world alight either.

Spoiler alert: There’s also an inevitable and totally unnecessary U2 moment which is so massively sign-posted it’s like someone’s waving a giant inflatable Bono in the background.

Author: Dee Pilgrim

Dee always knew she wanted to make her living from writing and so trained as a journalist before working for a variety of music and women’s titles including Sounds, Company, Cosmopolitan, Ms London, New Woman, and Girl About Town. After going freelance she concentrated on celebrity interviews and film, theatre, music and restaurant reviews. Her love of film goes back to her very first cinema experience at the age of five when her mother took her to see Bambi. She cried. At one time she was the Film Editor for NOW magazine and also the secretary for the film section of the Critics’ Circle and the celebrity coordinator for its annual film awards’ event. She has written a number of books for teenagers through Trotman Publishing, including five Real Life Guides to vocational careers (including Carpentry, Plumbing and Catering), and also three books on Real Life Issues (Money, Bereavement and Self Harm). Her favourite film is still Bladerunner.

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