St. Patrick’s Day Disney+ Review – The Luck of the Irish: A Pot of Charm

This review is dedicated to the amazing Timothy Omundson, who I first saw here and who almost made this film great.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Kyle Johnson (Ryan Merriman) is a high-schooler who is supernaturally lucky. His love interest Bonnie (Alexis Lopez), the head of the Heritage Committee, asks him about his family lineage. His parents, Bobby and Kathleen (Paul Kiernan, Marita Geraghty) both claim they’re from Cleveland, acting very suspiciously, and refuse to explain anything further. On the way home from basketball practice with his best friend Russell (Glenndon Chatman), he sees the symbol on his lucky coin advertising an Irish festival. He attends, meeting a strange old man (Henry Gibson), and watching a performance by Seamus McTiernan (Timothy Omundson), an irish folk dancer. He gets knocked down at the festival, but thinks nothing of it.

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His heart’s full of Blarney.

The next morning, Kyle finds his luck has soured, his mom has a pronounced Irish accent, and he’s shorter and uncoordinated. The day goes horribly, including Kyle almost costing his Basketball team the semi-finals. The day after that, he finds that he’s even shorter, is growing red hair, and that his lucky coin has been replaced by a fake. He goes home to find that his mother is now only a few inches tall. It turns out that she’s a leprechaun, making Kyle half leprechaun. As long as they had their coin, then all of his clan, the clan O’Reilly, could appear human. 

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He also gets the ears. 

Kyle’s mom says that the old man he saw at the fair was her father, Reilly O’Reilly, owner of a local factory. Reilly didn’t agree to his daughter marrying a human, so he had cut her off from the rest of the family. Kyle goes to meet with his grandfather, who reveals that the person who stole the coin was likely Seamus McTiernan, a Far darrig, or an evil leprechaun. Reilly, Russell, Bonnie, and the Johnsons all go to find McTiernan, who leads them on a car chase and escapes using corned beef and cabbage (it makes sense in context). 

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This is the most evil type of Leprechaun not played by Warwick Davis.

Eventually, they catch up to Seamus and Kyle gets his luck back, but Reilly is captured. Knowing a Far darrig cannot resist a bet, Kyle wagers the coin in a contest, saying he can beat Seamus at “sports.” Using his wording against him, Seamus challenges Kyle to the ancient Tailteann Games, most of which Kyle can’t physically win. Through a combination of luck and the fact that magical judges apparently like breakdancing, Kyle ties, but Seamus points out that since Kyle didn’t “beat” him, Seamus won the bet. Kyle wagers his freedom against the coin and his grandfather, saying that he can beat Seamus at basketball even without luck. Russell and Kyle are transported to the basketball finals and find themselves playing against Seamus and his crew. Kyle manages to win and, through clever wording, banishes Seamus to the shores of Lake Erie. He gets his luck back and performs an Irish dance at the heritage festival, before he and Bonnie lead the crowd in a chorus of “This Land Is Your Land.”

END SUMMARY

I selected this film, rather than Darby O’Gill and the Little People, mostly because I realized the other day that this was the first movie I saw featuring Timothy Omundson, one of the most underrated actors working today. For years, I have had the image of him shouting “I am the Saint of the Step” in my head whenever I see him, even though I’ve since seen him in better roles, because somehow he really stood out in this film despite his limited screen time and generic villain status. Also, I love his car-chase expressions.

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However, what I had apparently forgotten over the years is how very dated this film was. This movie came out in early 2001 and it is an interesting combination of patriotic “rah rah, America!” and globalist “immigrants are all Americans” that didn’t exactly continue after 9/11. Much of the film is about celebrating heritage while also celebrating America as the Land of Opportunity. Both Bonnie and Kyle make speeches about it, and not much is said about some of the downsides of America, aside from that “things used to be rough for immigrants.” At one point, in a moment that I had completely forgotten, Bonnie says that when they got here they Irish were paid far less than their labor is worth, only for Russell, an African-American, to say “AT LEAST THEY GOT PAID,” which is summarily ignored in favor of talking about the beauty of the American Dream. Like I said, it represents the last months of a distinct time period. 

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It’s also the “we don’t know how to CGI yet, but we’re getting there” period.

I don’t know whether or not this movie is offensive to Irish people, since I’m only of Irish descent, but I admit that it’s a little weird that the film indicates that accents, dancing, and flute playing are genetic. I guess that might only be for Leprechauns, though. That is also among the long list of things that turn out to be quite odd and yet completely accepted by the characters. For example, while Leprechauns exist, we don’t really get an idea that they have any magical powers beyond “lucky” only for us to quickly be shown that at least Seamus is capable of all sorts of insane magics. Despite how sudden the reveal that “oh, hey, Leprechauns have magic” is, not a single character really responds by asking if Kyle has any powers. If the O’Reilly Clan’s sole benefit is that they’re lucky, that’s not bad, but I feel like they only touched the surface of this mythology. They did, however, get that the fae love wordplay and will always honor a deal to the letter, not the spirit.

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And a shoe obsession.

However, the performances in the movie manage to make it charming despite the seemingly meandering plot. Ryan Merriman gave a solid performance in both this and Smart House, even though his character tends to be a little forgettable. Henry Gibson is just naturally hilarious from his years on Laugh-in and he had previously played a leprechaun on Bewitched. Then there’s Omundson. Despite the fact that his lines are nothing short of terrible at many points, he delivers them so sincerely that they come off as just a megalomaniac who genuinely believes he’s infallible. It helps that when Merriman or Gibson or Chatman says something extremely unusual in response, Omundson genuinely looks confused or annoyed by it. Acting is reacting, people. 

Overall, I still have a soft spot for this movie. If you have Disney+, give it a try.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Best St. Patrick’s Day Episodes

Top of the Afternoon to Ye! For whatever reason, I didn’t think about writing a list of these until today, so I just cranked this out as fast as possible after oversleeping massively.  But, here you go:

5) St. Patrick’s Day (The Office)

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Michael (Steve Carell) gets angry at Jo (Kathy Bates) for making him work late and upsetting his St. Patrick’s Day plans. After repeated escape attempts, Michael finally just tells Jo that he’s letting everyone go home, to which she, surprisingly, complies, showing respect for him for the first time.

Meanwhile, Dwight (Rainn Wilson) has been using Jim’s (John Krasinkski) and Pam’s (Jenna Fischer) desks while they have been on parental leave to make a “MegaDesk.” When Jim returns, Dwight tries to guilt him into leaving so he can have his MegaDesk back. Jim does leave and spends more time with his baby, but stacks four desks into “QuadDesk,” which forces Dwight to keep everything in about a 6 inch gap.

Alright, this one doesn’t have as much Irish spirit as some of the others, but since it’s about all of the things that eventually replace St. Patrick’s Day (work, kids), it’s still a pretty good episode.

4) Charlie Catches a Leprechaun (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia)

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It’s St. Paddy’s Day at Paddy’s Pub, and the Gang is trying to make some real money. Dennis, Dee, and Frank (Glenn Howerton, Kaitlin Olson, and Danny DeVito) take off in the “Paddy’s Wagon,” a bar contained within a van, but their inability to ever cooperate or think things through leads all the customers to get upset, which, in turn, leads the three to start robbing all of their customers and abandoning them out of the city limits.

Meanwhile, Charlie (Charlie Day) and Mac (Rob McElhenney) are watching the bar, but they quickly become distracted when Charlie catches a little person in a leprechaun costume (Kevin Thompson). After Mac leaves (for a gay bar), Charlie, who has been drinking paint mixed with alcohol, believes this to be a real leprechaun, and starts torturing him (Reservoir Dogs style), until the rest of the gang returns to stop him.

Basically, this episode is just the Gang ruining a bunch of people’s attempts to have a good time, but they’re also ruined by people robbing their bar when they leave it unattended. So… happy holiday about drinking?

3) The Funcooker (30 Rock)

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30 Rock fans probably thought that this was going to be the episode “St. Patrick’s Day,” but screw that, this episode’s more fun.

While hosting the St. Patrick’s Day parade, Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) and Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) drink too much, causing Jenna to pass out and Tracy to violently swear on live TV.  However, after realizing that he can just pay all of the FCC fines, Tracy keeps swearing on TV. When sponsors drop out, Tracy just buys all the advertising time himself.

Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) is unable to deal with it because she’s stuck on the jury for the trial of a woman who worked in a similar capacity to Liz and ended up snapping and burning the building down. Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) is attempting to find the name for a small portable microwave, and Kenneth the page (Jack McBrayer) suggests the “Funcooker” as the only universally non-offensive term for it. However, Tracy, now acting with impunity, moons the world while calling his ass the “Funcooker,” ruining the name and the network. Liz returns to find the chaos, and then accidentally starts a small fire, which scares everyone into compliance.

This episode shows the fallout that can come from bad St. Patrick’s Day decisions, so make sure that you drink slightly less than Jenna and Tracy.

2) Hoss and the Leprechauns (Bonanza)

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Alright, so, this might be a jump-the-shark moment, but this is a hell of a funny episode of Bonanza.

Hoss Cartwright (Dan Blocker) is in the woods when he finds a bear that has treed a small man wearing green in a funny hat. Hoss scares the bear away, saving the man, and then finds a small box filled with gold. Hoss immediately suspects that it was a leprechaun. When he returns to town and the Ponderosa, no one believes him about the  leprechaun, and the gold disappears. However, at the same time, an Irish professor shows up and confirms that there are indeed leprechauns and pots of gold in the woods, leading everyone to go treasure hunting.

After finding a bunch of little people, it’s revealed that they’re all carnies who staged a rebellion and robbed their crooked boss, who is disguised as the Irish professor. This episode is a pretty hilarious farce, with even the audience doubting whether or not they are real leprechaun.

1) Homer vs. The Eighteenth Amendment (The Simpsons)

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This is one of the best episodes of the Simpsons. It was destined to take this spot from the beginning. For those of you who point out it only starts on “St. Patrick’s Day,” shut yer gobs.

On St. Patrick’s Day, Bart accidentally gets shot with a beer cannon, resulting in him stumbling around drunk on television. A moral outcry leads the city of Springfield to finally enforce their 200-year-old law banning alcohol. However, Chief Wiggum is too corrupt, resulting in the city calling in Dick Tracy-esque Rex Banner (Dave Thomas), who proceeds to wipe out the mob and the speakeasies. However, Homer, die-hard alcoholic that he is, digs up all the buried beer in the dump, then sets up a system to supply the alcohol to Moe’s Tavern through a series of underground tunnels at the bowling alley.

Homer, now known as the “Beer Baron,” eventually runs out of beer and starts making his own alcohol. When Marge finds out, as opposed to being mad, she is impressed at how clever Homer is being. Eventually, though, Homer feels bad for Chief Wiggum’s unemployment, and turns himself in to the former Chief so that he will get his job back.

Homer avoids the punishment for brewing (which is “catapult”) after it’s revealed that the law was actually repealed 199 years ago. When Banner tries to criticize the drinking, he is catapulted out of town. The episode ends with one of the best lines in TV history:

To alcohol! The cause of… and solution to… all of life’s problems.

Thanks for reading, drink responsibly. Or don’t. I’m a blog, not a cop.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.