Irish villages in the movies are becoming as common as actors sporting Irish accents, such as Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. "Waking Ned Devine" is a harmless, pleasant black comedy that aims at the funny bone in delicate, sophisticated ways and, oh, the actors really seem Irish, too.
The movie begins with Jackie O'Shea (Ian Bannen) clutching a lottery ticket and claiming that he's won millions. Truth is he just wanted to tease his wife into bringing him dessert while watching TV. Later, it turns out that in the cozy, rainy village of Tully More, Ireland (actually the Isle of Man, which is not quite Ireland), somebody has won the lottery. Jackie, along with his best friend, Michael O'Sullivan (David Kelly), aims to locate the lucky winner. In a place with a population of 51, it can't be too difficult. But who could it be? Is it the smelly pig farmer or the single mother he pines for? The witch-like eccentric woman? The lucky winner is actually a Ned Devine, who died while holding the winning ticket. Jackie decides that the ticket is his, and basks in the glory that the money will bring him.
"Waking Ned Devine" doesn't quite end there since there are many surprises and delights that unfold along its merry way. There is also a wicked sense of humor throughout, particularly involving naked motorists, prying a dead man's mouth open, a funeral for a living person, and some hysterical business involving a telephone booth.
The supporting characters could have used more depth (the pig farmer is a good example), but the film is a breezy triumph of comic spirit and laughter. Ian Bannen and David Kelley have the kindest faces I've seen at the movies in quite some time - they linger long after the movie is over. When these two appear on screen, "Waking Ned Devine" becomes a frolicsome dinner party that you don't want to end.
For more reviews, check out JERRY AT THE MOVIES at http://buffs.moviething.com/buffs/faust/
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