THE STAG (2014)


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.

3.5 clappers

About thomasjford

I like Movies and Music and most things popular culture.


  1. giorge thomas

    I have not heard of any of these actors. Is that bad?

    Have not seen ANY of the hangover movies. I cringe just thinking of them. Am I right thinking they’ll be a waste of time?

    • I didn’t know any of the actors either. I think one of them is in the TV show Sherlock with Cumberbatch and Freeman.

      As for The Hangover movies, the first one is OK, but avoid the next two like the plague!!

  2. Seems like a fun addition to my TBW list. Thank you, Tom! 🙂

  3. Didn’t see it but recognise the main character from Moone Boy. Great review dude.

  4. V

    Great review Tom, I just have a little correction suggestion. It’s not a “British” comedy, but an Irish comedy. It’s was made and produced in Ireland by Treasure Entertainment in conjunction with the Irish Film Board. Completely home-grown.

    • Damn, that was lazy of me! I apologise for any offence caused! I probably wrote it without even thinking as I kind of just bundle all of Ireland with Britain usually, again because of laziness!

      • V

        No worries, we get that a lot. 😉 It’s one of my personal missions in life to make sure everyone knows the Rep. of Ireland isn’t part of the UK. I know, I need more hobbies. 😀

      • I think, to be honest, as long as you count Bono as one of your own, we Brits will be happy to be separate! 😉 haha, sorry couldn’t resist!

      • V

        LOL! I’ll deal. Though I think plenty of my fellow countrymen and women would be happy to give him away in a heartbeat. 😀

      • Haha. Poor guy. No one wants him

  5. I love Irish comedy. This looks charming and fun. I loved The Hangover, so looking forward to seeing it. Nice review, Thomas.

  6. Glad that you liked this one as well! We gave it identical scores! The Machine is fantastic!

  7. Sounds like a really funny film.

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