Friday, February 28, 2014

Streaming: HARD TIMES proves passable Viagra comedy from Tom Reeve and Michael O'Mahony

The idea for this movie is a lot better than its final execution. That's faint praise, I suppose, and there are some funny moments and a deal of charm, as well, in this Irish-village-idiots-pull-a-heist comedy, HARD TIMES (formerly known as Holy Water), from director Tom Reeve and screenwriter Michael O'Mahony -- which is now available to stream via Netflix. If bearded men in nun drag turns you on (and I admit, this usually does draw a laugh or two) then this may indeed be your cup of Irish breakfast tea. And the idea of hiding your heist -- a truckload of Viagra -- in the local well from which the little village's famous holy water is drawn, also would appear to have some comic potential.

Director Reeve, shown at right, and screenwriter O'Mahony, however, are only so-so in the mining-of-laughs department. Their tale, which takes place in a lovely and bucolic seaside village from which the lovelorn like to leap to their death, involves a crew of those "delightful village rogues" that have graced Irish imports for, what? -- at least half a century now. One of the more deservedly successful was 1998s Waking Ned Devine, and the most recent of which is probably Grabbers, the rather amazing monster-movie-in-an-Irish-seaside-village, complete with a raft of funny characters. Hard Times is nowhere near the level of either film, but it manages to touch the hem of their garments, so to speak.

Though it boasts a good cast -- led by John Lynch (on poster, top, and above, left, as one of those "nuns"), who provides by far the most fun -- what that cast must deal with is a so-so script and direction that dawdles, at best, and really holds things up, at worst. Audiences who watch a lot of movies will find themselves way ahead of the plot twists most of the time. (The Pfizer truck supposedly loaded with Viagra plays quite a large role in the proceedings, though the credits tell us that Pfizer absolutely had no part in this film. Really? The product placement alone must have sold a ton of those little blue pills.)

Also along for the ride are Linda Hamilton (above, left) and Tommy "Tiny" Lister (above, center), as American security personnel come to "fix" things. They don't, of course, and everything they do do is telegraphed a week ahead of time.

There's romance blooming here and there, and once the Viagra begins releasing into the water source, there's the expected rutting. It's all fairly funny, but you can write the script yourself as you move along. Religion (above) takes its licks, gently, and we even get some mild, would-be gay humor, plus a little nudity, sort of....

Hard Times -- running 93 minutes and with English subtitles, in case the dialect's too thick -- is available now via Netflix streaming and perhaps elsewhere, too.

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