“There are two things you need for a good adventure: a treasure map, and someone dumb enough to go with you.” If you were to read that, you might just be inclined to follow the person who said it. If not, you might just miss out on one hell of a wild ride.
The Young Offenders, the debut feature from Peter Foott, is a story about never-do-wells just trying to get ahead despite being completely out of options. Essentially, this can be seen as a comical call to action for those with zero opportunities. As someone once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” And these two hooligans — or rather, young offenders — are put down every single day. They’re tired of it, they want something better, and who can blame them?
So Conner (Alex Murphy), and Jock (Chris Walley) set their minds to getting rich the day after the largest drug bust in Irish history finds innumerable parcels of cocaine ($7 million euros a piece) bobbing up and down the shoreline. Finally, this catalyst – dreams of women, mansions, and caves – is the impetus motivating the highly unmotivated to commit to something in their lives. Well, there’s a first time for everything.
Jock and Conner’s brilliant get rich quick scheme, which is too good to be true, turns out to be the adventure of their lifetime. It’s a lot of laughs, replete with absurd situations and characters, but the real center of the film is the tangible family troubles in each of boy’s household. It’s surprisingly dramatic (the little there is), but it never gets too far from the crazy events the boys have set in motion.
The music from Ray Harman helps make this less like a clinical genre film as it adds a layer of warmth to help us connect to the characters. Yet the pitiful duo are so charming one doesn’t need much to be won over. If one can get past the first few minutes of incredibly thick Irish accents, you’re rewarded with a credit sequence featuring an energetic and visceral bicycle chase (on par with the beginning of Skyfall) followed by a story that is one of the more fulfilling buddy flicks in the past few decades, one that’s nearly on par with Edgar Wright fare.
It’s a lighthearted pic, but while Conner, and Jock are complete imbeciles, they’re nigh inseparable imbeciles. And that’s the hook. Each would do anything for the other, despite their imperfections. This isn’t a Harry and Lloyd way like Dumb and Dumber, rather The Young Offenders is about finding one person you have a great deal in common with, and even when nothing else seems to be going for you in life, you stick with them.
While it can be tame, on par with TV-grade content like The Inbetweeners, it’s still a highly enjoyable trip replete with drugs, parental disobedience, and a nail gun — don’t worry, it’s all in good, PG-13 rated fun. If you don’t have the interest (or stomach) for something like Klown or New Kids Nitro and the desire to try and unsee gross-out elements therein, then Peter Foott has the ideal alternative. The laughs are legitimate and the friendship is truly earned.
The Young Offenders screened at Fantastic Fest 2016.