Mrs Brown's Boys: D'Movie | Review by Steve Bennett

Mrs Brown's Boys: D'Movie

Note: This review is from 2014

Review by Steve Bennett

Ever watched Mrs Brown’s Boys on TV, and thought: this really needs to be three times as long? Then D’Movie is for you...

Actually, it’s a slightly different prospect from the sitcom, so heavily dependent on Brendan O’Carroll’s hamming it up with the whooping, hollering and guffawing studio audience. With no laugh track on the ‘filum’ – obviously – the script has to fend for itself, which reveals how flat most of the lines are, but it also makes the experience a lot less irritating for those of us who wonder what the feck everyone’s finding so funny.

The storyline is as predictable as they come: plucky Agnes Brown battling to keep her independent Dublin market stall open against the evils of big business. As a template, it just about holds together, even despite plot holes you could drive the Dublin to Holyhead ferry through: the main plot revolving around a receipt held in the public record office that somehow has to be stolen, because well.. for no better reason that filling in the requisite paperwork isn’t exactly filmic.

All manner of other preposterous nonsense is thrown into the mix: Russian heavies, a man dressed as a chicken on horseback, a barrister with Tourette’s, just in case there wasn’t swearing enough already, and a band of blind ninjas. Or should I say ‘brind’ ninjas, as they are led by O’Carroll in another guise, Mr Wang – putting on the sort of cod generic ‘oriental’ accent we haven’t heard since the 1970s, and for good reason. It’s an embarrassing addition. It should raise a shudder to think that he’s planning a sequel based entirely on this ... well ‘character’ would be overstating it.

O’Carroll never shies from any gag just because it’s cheap. For example, after what’s actually a rare serious moment, when Agnes speaks of the heartache of temporarily putting her children into the care of nuns, the heartache is described as being ‘like Sophie’s Choice’. ‘Who the feck’s Sophie?’ Mrs B counters after a comic beat, an awkward destruction of the sombre mood. But then O’Carroll never got rich overestimating public sophistication. The guy next to me in the cinema laughed like a drain at a man being kicked in the nuts.

It’s not just the jokes that are cheap, the sentimentality is, too. This is a film that’s quite happy to play You Raise Me Up – that standard of cheesy X-Factor feelgood stories – behind a scene when all Mrs Brown’s fellow stallholders rally to her support. And a courtroom soliloquy about the people being the heart and soul of Dublin, set to a swelling soundtrack, is more sugary than a Krispy Kreme and Coke.

For all that – and the usual telltale sign that it wasn’t screened to critics in advance of yesterday’s release –  this isn’t an execrable movie, as you might fear, just a feeble one. Mrs Brown’s many detractors may not hate it as much as they might expect, but as the bawdy one-dimensional excesses of the TV series have been watered down, has it lost the one thing that made it such an unlikely hit?

The Mrs Brown character is fleshed out a little more than on TV, the thinly-drawn characters of her family downplayed, and there’s a lot less reliance on the flimsy joke that this is a man dressed as a mammy swearing a lot. Her knowing winks to the camera are still present, and in the spirit of the sitcom a couple of bloopers stay in the main narrative.

But even if it’s bearable for a while, the tediously over-long chase sequence that serves as a climax – while missing any of the gleeful excesses of, say, the Blues Brothers’ destruction derby – will surely test the patience of even the most dedicate Mrs Brown fan. Still, there’s so many of them, that D’Movie is likely to be a D’pressing box office hit.

Review date: 28 Jun 2014
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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