Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The sheriff is a near. That’s the line that went through my mind as I watched Eddie Griffin arrive on the shores of Ireland to seize control over his newly acquired pub in this somewhat comedy flick ‘Irish Jam’. Of course that line if from ‘Blazing Saddles’, probably one of the funniest movies ever. ‘Irish Jam’ on the other hand… Well let’s just say it’s something else altogether, and what that is I’m still trying to figure out.

Our film opens in an Irish pub with a beautiful Irish song sung by the lovely Maureen as played by British actress Anna Friel. There’s evil local developer, as if a developer in a movie could be anything but evil, by the name of Lord Hailstock (Kevin McNally) who owns all of the surrounding land and just needs to wait a minute more before the locals default on the pub, which he will then own allowing him to complete his dream of building a theme park called Leprechaun World. But the locals have a brilliant idea as presented by Mr. Michael O’Malley (Christopher Dunne), in they should have a poetry contest, charge a small entrance fee with the pub as the prize, which would give them the extra money to hopefully pay off Lord Hailstock and give the pub to foreign hands, keeping it away from the evil Hailstock. Only in movies.

Naturally this leads us to Los Angeles and Jimmy McDevitt (Griffin) a down on his luck, fast talking, up to no good con-man (what a stretch Eddie) who makes his living grifting and break dancing on the street for spare change. He’s on the run from some bangers he sold some oregano to masquerading as marijuana and his overweight violent girlfriend as played by Monique, who I’m almost CERTAIN looks upon this role as a personal low point in her career. Fate blows a newspaper into Jimmy’s face which has an announcement about the poetry contest which he enters and, surprise, he wins. The lost son of Ireland is coming home.

Our typical fish out of water story begins as Jimmy lands on Irish shores. Some of the locals are besides themselves that the new pub owner is a near, others, particularly Maureen and her mute daughter Kathleen (Tallulah Pitt-Brown), find the brash Jimmy very amusing. Cue montage of folks getting along, relationships growing and bonds strengthening. We also get a little knowledge kicked our way of the similarities between the Irish people and the forcibly relocated Africans of America. But there’s always the looming specter of Hailstock and his damned Leprechaun World, and Jimmy being ever the hustler… well, would he sell out his new found friends in his new home to make a quick a buck? Don’t do it Jimmy! Pleezeee don’t do it!

‘Irish Jam’ is classified as a comedy but quite honestly it’s not very funny, and I don’t mean that it fails to be funny, but that it just doesn’t seem like it was meant to be a knee slapping comedy. This seemed more like a romantic movie with a bit of light comedy sprinkled in. I realize the mere inclusion of Eddie Griffin in one’s film should make it a gut busting side splitting comedy, but with the exception of ‘Under Cover Brother’ I’ve never found Griffin all that funny, and I didn’t think he was all that funny in this either, but it does appear that the kid can act a little bit. As this movie started out it really looked like I was in for a torture ride of mammoth proportions, but the film did manage to get better as it went along.

‘Irish Jam’ had some nice things working in its favor, and number one would be actress Anna Friel who gave a very sweet heartfelt performance. There was scene in this film where she had to break down crying because she loved Griffin’s Jimmy so much, and she made me believe she actually loved that dude. For real. Having never heard of Ms. Friel before seeing this, if I was a casting director, based on her performance in this movie alone, she would get some serious consideration for all future roles from me. Eddie Griffin, when he wasn’t freestyle joke cracking, was good in this movie too, and he and Friel amazingly managed to generate some real chemistry together in this film. All around the cast was good in this film along with the very nice photography of Ireland – or wherever the hell they shot this thing. But poor Monique. She deserves better than to play these kinds of garbage insulting roles in movies like this.

I’m can’t say that ‘Irish Jam’ was a good movie but it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. Considering what little marketing and publicity it has received, I’m assuming it wasn’t what Bauer-Martinez, it’s distributors, was expecting either as this thing has been pretty much swept under the DTV rug. Strange, strange little movie this ‘Irish Jam’ was.

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