The Stag is your stereotypical Irish comedy and for the most part that’s an awesome thing.
There is a downside, primarily in the scenes where its brilliance plummets to awkwardly polite Fair City dialogue..
The plot is a mash-up of The Hangover and Tool Academy, an uber-bromance mixed with mid-life crisis and a coming of age storyline.
The first 20 minutes of the film is a complete love in, about as unremarkable as the torrential rain of the opening scene, with Hugh O’Conor and Andrew Scott overkilling the bromance as groom Fionnan and best man Davin.
Amy Huberman chirpily keeps the show going, as the bride who needs a break from the wedding crazed groom, so she begs Davin to take her fiancé off on a stag along with her terrifying brother, “The Machine”.
Insert multiple shots of Trinity College as Scott poses as an English professor, who has never been seen lurking in the Arts block before.
Things keep up a gear when the boys land in the country and The Machine (Peter MacDonald) is there with his laddish and uncompromising fervour for the male bonding trip. MacDonald wrote the script with Butler, and no doubt wrote the best part for himself. Spearheading the comedic banter, and backed by Davin’s gay brother and his partner charmingly called the two Kevin’s, the film's humour really sparks off as the boys brave the elements for their camping holiday.
Just like Harry Potter and co, the stagheads don’t have an easy time camping, tensions ensue and the motley bunch stumbles from one incident to another: Electric fence: 2, band of idiot brothers: 0.
Having known many couples, and been one personal victim, who opted to see The Wolf of Wall Street as a date, I can attest to this film’s suitability for couples. The drugs are minimal and not ingested from anal cavities. Amy Huberman gets only 20 minutes of screen time and unlike Margot Robbie is fully clothed so he won’t be gaping at a bare ladies arse, while you feel enormous guilt for the large popcorn you bought just for yourself. You will see some male bums, but even if boys get body envy the nude scene is a comic gag and rather tame.
With the most boring bits at the start, you won’t fall asleep and mortify yourself by snoring. You will laugh your head off and have favourite scenes to discuss when you leave. It’s only an hour and a half long and doesn't drag; the sequence of misadventure bounds along quite nicely once it starts. Perfect snuggling time without arms going dead (again, thinking of the couples out there).
Of course this being an Irish comedy the ending is saccharine to the point of a toothache. A wedding with possibly the most boring and cliched best man speech ever is a damper on what had been a rip roaring adventure. Fake tears are shed, and finally the scene is wrapped up as a cast member sings a well-known diddy and the rest awkwardly dance.
Is this a great comedy? It’s a good laugh alright. Will it be the best Irish film of the year? Pushing it. Irish classic? Maybe not, but then again once RTÉ get the rights we might be seeing it more than Notting Hill on ITV2.
Highlights of the film include Amy Huberman’s bookend appearances; even if there is absolutely no chemistry between her and the groom, the presence of BOD’s missus is always a winner.
The Machine and the two Kevin’s draw big laughs and keep the energy throughout the film, so you can for the most part ignore Davin’s miserable brooding and whatever the hell Fionnan is actually worrying about.
Overall verdict: Go and see it with your friends – it’ll be a good laugh.