Starring: Andrew Scott, Hugh O’Conor, Peter McDonald, Brian Gleeson, Michael Legge, Andrew Bennett, Amy Huberman
Directed by: John Butler
Synopsis: A bachelor party weekend in the great outdoors takes some unexpected detours.
The Stag, or The Bachelor Weekend in the US, is a charming little indie film that sounds ominously like The Hangover, but fortunately steers clear of that franchise’s worst bits (eg, the second and third films).
Fionnan (Hugh O’Conor) is getting married to Ruth (Amy Huberman) soon and his mates want to take him on a stag do. Unfortunately Fionnan is a bit of a wet blanket, and would rather be organising flowers and table place cards than drinking in strip clubs. Ruth asks his best man Davin (Andrew Scott) to organise an outdoors hike to get him away from her for a while. The stag do will be with other various friends and, much to the despair of all of them, Ruth’s brother, an in-your-face nutcase who calls himself The Machine. They start their camping expedition, but, in true comedy form, not everything goes to plan. In fact, nothing goes to plan.
The Stag, despite it’s low budget, is an above average British comedy, with some genuinely funny moments and, save from a couple of points, it all works really well. It’s not ground breaking, but it’s an enjoyable ninety minutes.
The real comedy starts when The Machine (Peter McDonald) turns up. The whole gang have managed to avoid inviting him but he appears anyway, and instantly insults all of them with his boorish ways. The Machine is, despite his initial persona, by far the best character here. His back story actually has some depth, along with that of Davin. The rest of the characters don’t really get much more than a cursory nod. The gay couple, the two Kevin’s, who may or may not get invited to the wedding by Fionnan’s father and Simon who apparently has huge debts he has to repay. We don’t learn much about these, but then the story isn’t so much about them as it is about the relationship between Davin and Fionnan and something that happened in their past. Needless to say it all comes to a head during the trip.
There are some really fun moments, such as The Machine’s attempts to vault some electric fencing and the setting fire of their tent. There are some scenes that carry a decent emotional heft, especially Davin’s song around the campfire, with all of his friends apart from Fionnan, understanding his pain. A couple of moments that didn’t work for me were the scene in which they whip out some MDMA and take it around the campfire. One, they didn’t up to that point, show any signs of being the kind of guys who would take drugs, and two, it didn’t do anything for the story anyway. The other was the, as expected, slightly saccharine ending and all it’s “We are Ireland” chest beating. But they are small complaints about a very charming, funny little film.