The Young OffendersCultureCinemaMovie reviews
The Young Offenders, Peter Foott’s buddy comedy, takes inspiration from Ireland’s biggest cocaine bust in 2007. Inseparable best friends Conor (Alex Murphy) and Jock (Chris Walley) are directionless and restless teenagers from Cork who dress alike, act the same, and face similar troubles at home with their respective bereaved single parents. When a huge boat trafficking cocaine capsizes off the coast of West Cork and several packs of the drug are left unaccounted for, Jock sees his chance to make a quick buck (£7 million to be precise).
This is a road trip movie on a budget; instead of travelling in a vintage camper van our two young characters journey, naturally given Jock’s occupation, on stolen bicycles, and rather than trying to find themselves they are trying to find a missing bale of cocaine. Though, of course, like any good film of this genre the friends do end up learning a good deal about themselves, but this avoids becoming too bogged down in sentimentality.
Instead, The Young Offenders strikes the perfect balance between slapstick, dark humour and genuinely heartfelt moments. Conor and Jock’s friendship is the focus of the story and Walley and Murphy switch effortlessly between insults, jokes and more sentimental exchanges. Their bond and far-fetched goals are reminiscent of the endearingly hapless Trotter brothers in Only Fools and Horses and there is even a nod to this in the script: “This time tomorrow we could be millionaires,” says Jock, while trying to persuade a reluctant Conor to accompany him on this chaotic and ill-fated trip. That being said, the humour in the movie is far from family-friendly and the background stories of the boys’ troubled families stops it from veering into pure slapstick Dumb and Dumber territory.
The soundtrack is full of suitably punchy pop songs, including an opening sequence accompanied by M.I.A.’s overused Paper Planes. This initial montage features Jock cycling around the city in a rubber mask and is shot in a way that makes him look like the action hero he wishes he was.
There are very few dull moments in the film as we go from joke to joke and from slapstick action sequence to the more heartfelt scenes. The performances of the two central characters are great and manage to effortlessly combine the faux macho posturing of teenage boys with Jock and Conor’s obvious vulnerability and need for friendship amidst instability.
The Young Offenders is released nationwide on 13th January 2017.
Watch the trailer for The Young Offenders here: