Fantastic Fest Review: The Young Offenders

Gleeful Irish coke comedy is a sidesplitter

Evil masterminds? Not so much. Conor MacSweeney (Alex Murphy) and Jock Murphy (Chris Walley) in sidesplitting Irish crime comedy The Young Offenders

For the last few years, Irish cinema has been synonymous with horror. Yet for a good couple of decades, the Emerald Isle was the go-to destination for witty and playful satires, and The Young Offenders is a charming return for Irish comedy.

The richest vein of humor has always been found in the wily underdog coming close to getting a shot at the big time, like The Commitments or Waking Ned Devine. For his debut feature, seasoned television writer/director Peter Foott uses a real get-rich-quick scheme as his launching pad. In 2007, European law enforcement seized a yacht carrying 1.5 tons of cocaine off the Irish coast. Well, almost. Sixty-two bales of coke fell into the ocean, and the seaside was covered with wannabe drug tycoons, hoping that a few kilos would wash up.

What kind of moron believes that could ever work? Idiot teen Conor MacSweeney (Alex Murphy) and his even more idiotic friend Jock Murphy (Chris Walley), who come up with a harebrained scheme: steal some bikes, cycle the 100 miles or so to the coast, find the coke, and then ... well, clearly they're not the type to think that far ahead.

"Charming comedy about coke dealers" may seem like a long stretch, but the coke is just a MacGuffin. The humor is in the two best friend fools running afoul of real dealers, relentless cops, and Conor's fish-selling mother (Hilary Rose, adding hilarious deadpan fury). But the greatest laughs come from the two lads, classic bumbling fools with hearts of dented gold.

As the thick Cork accents quickly signify, there's no shamrocks-and-shillelagh pandering to foreign audiences. Yet even if the quickfire dialect-heavy dialogue may be tough on some ears, the sheer boisterous glee and slapstick joy of the two dim bulbs and their harebrained scheme make this a laugh-out-loud success.

The Young Offenders screens again Monday, Sept. 26, 10:55pm.

Fantastic Fest 2016 runs Sept. 22-29 at the Alamo South Lamar. Tickets and info at, and follow our ongoing coverage at

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