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Man About dog is an irreverent, witty and fast paced comedy caper about a tale of 3 losers who leave their quaint town with a debt of $50k to a bookie, only to embark on a journey of self-debauchery courtesy of drink, greyhounds, and hookers... Written by
Amusing but mostly too much Lock Stock, not enough originality
Mo Chara's father got him into betting on dogs and for better or worse (mostly worse) it has become his passion. His friends Paulsy and Scud Murphy go along with his judgement most of the time. When Mo lets bookie JP McCallion win a race in return for a dog from his stable, the boys get screwed and left with a fuzzy creature called Boots. They dump Boots and agree to scupper another of McCallion's races in return for another dog from a wealthy owner seeking revenge. They get the dog but McCallion wants what he should have won from them fifty thousand Euros. With their options limited, the boys take their dog, their broken down van and head south into the Republic.
I watched this because it was made (partly) in Northern Ireland and I felt that I should support the small film industry there with my time if nothing else; other than that though I didn't know anything about it. The opening five minutes changed all that because the style, energy and tone of the film immediately told me that this was going to be one of many films that tries to utilise the style that Guy Ritchie made his name with in Lock Stock. Often I find this very off-putting and I haven't always got much from the films that jump on this new British gangster genre without a great deal to offer of its own. To a greater or lesser extent this film more or less falls into the same trap because the style and excess in the story is very much in the mould of Lock Stock.
It works best when the film uses it sparingly because the film does just about have enough of its own about it to make it worth watching. The typically Norn Iron dark humour is infused into the laddish gangster action pretty well and, as a Belfast boy myself, I could relate to aspects of the characters in there. However too often it does rely on Lock Stock tricks and style without really producing enough to hold up the style. It has a few "good" moments but mostly it is just amusing. The cast are pretty good but, like the script, they cannot totally make the film their own. Leech doesn't totally convince with his accent or his leading man ability but he does OK nonetheless. Nolan is more natural and recognisable as the type of person I would expect in his situation but he is not able to raise the material that much nor Murphy (sadly recently deceased). McGinley is the only one I'd describe as a real "face" within the film.
Looking at it coldly this is a rip-off of Lock Stock but set in Ireland but it does just about have enough local content to provide enough to justify watching it, but too often it gives in to aping the style of Lock Stock. Funnily enough the day I saw this film I also heard Mark Kermode comment on Shrooms (the next film from Breathnach) that it lacked its own style and was trying to sell to other markets. The same can be said of Man About Dog. As a result it is a so-so comedy but it cannot find its own voice due to the amount of time and energy spent on aping Guy Ritchie.
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