Friday 14 March 2014

"The Stag" (The Guardian 14/03/14)

The Stag ***
Dir: John Butler. With: Andrew Scott, Hugh O’Conor, Peter McDonald. 94 mins. Cert: 15

Someday, all male-centred comedies will be modelled after The Hangover. This account of a wayward walking weekend in Wicklow at least forms one of the more likable variations, holding back the willy-waving to examine how a set of middle-class Irishmen might well interact once pushed beyond their usual boundaries. As BBC4’s short-lived The Great Outdoors recognised, there’s considerable mileage in the way these jaunts throw together diverse types: the process by which Andrew Scott’s lovelorn best man is undermined by alpha-ish interloper Peter McDonald is well-observed, while the inclusion of two gay travellers rather smartly sidesteps one of this subgenre’s signature panics. One or two set-pieces don’t quite have the requisite heft, yet it clicks whenever co-writer/director John Butler stops to admire the scenery: his fine cast locate the material’s underlying pathos, and sustain a funny riff involving the one walker who can’t stand U2 (“You are Irish, right?”). 

The Stag opens today in cinemas nationwide.

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