“The Luck of the Irish” (2001)
Directed by: Paul Hoen
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! In honor of this intoxicating holiday—and of course the raging basketball season that surrounds it—Disney screened “The Luck of the Irish”, the pot of nostalgic gold near the end of my childhood rainbow. With “Psych” star Timothy Omundson (better known as “Lassie” to the fans of the hit USA series) and Ryan Merriman, star of ABC Family’s popular mystery series “Pretty Little Liars” and random horror sequels (Final Destination 3, The Ring Two), this 2001 TV movie has some lasting names. Two-time Golden Globe nominee, the late Henry Gibson (Nashville, Wedding Crashers) also stars, though his fame was established long before 2001 for gigs like Rowan and Martin’s “Laugh In”—an aside, Gibson’s son Charles is an Oscar-winning visual effects coordinator that has worked on films like Babe and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.
Heritage Day is quickly approaching at school, and Kyle Johnson (Merriman), an only child, has no clue where his family came from. “We’re from Cleveland” his dad tells him, as his mother keeps mum. About the time Kyle discovers his Irish heritage, he loses the luck that all leprechauns possess. Yes, leprechauns. A bad history led Kyle’s parents to stay quiet about their disquieting past. To get his luck back, Kyle and his grandfather Reilly O’Reilly (Gibson) and friends (Alexis Lopez and Glenndon Chatman) will have to beat an evil leprechaun, Seamus McTiernan (Omundson), at his own game.
At times, “The Luck of the Irish” tends to lean towards Irish stereotypes, from the hot-headedness to the red hair to the small stature to the jigs, but the humor at times caters to young adults and less to children, making it as enjoyable to me as it was a decade ago. Gibson, for a man from Philadelphia (though it does have the second-highest percentage of Irish-Americans) acts a spectacular leprechaun—his thick accent is almost as amusing as his wardrobe. Kyle’s parents, played by Marita Geraghty and Paul Kiernan, are a bit theatrical, butwhat more can you expect from a Disney TV movie?
What a great day to show such a green—and I don’t mean profitable—movie, but what’s the point of St. Patty’s Day? Sorry Irish-Americans, but it just seems like an excuse for millions of Americans—Irish heritage or not—to get severely intoxicated and wear all sorts of green. Why don’t we have holidays to celebrate Spanish-Americans, Russian-Americans, or—here’s the kicker—Native Americans? But I digress.
“The Luck of the Irish” will forever remain a part of my childhood, but it’s never too late to jump on board. If you’re in for a wee bit of fun this St. Pat’s Day, try putting down the Guinness and turning on Disney channel.