The Young Offenders

A knockabout Cork-based comedy drama featuring the kind of daft petty criminals that most people like to spend time with within the comfortable confines of a movie but would probably despise were they to meet them in real life. It’s quite funny, at times, if a little predictable; there’s always a dumb, local bad guy and an unhealthily-obsessed, faintly absurd policeman on the trail of the hero(s) in these capers, and once these have been introduced within the first ten minutes you know exactly how the story is going to pan out. Still, at least the two main protagonists have good comic chemistry and, at its best, The Young Offenders is almost as good as John Crowley’s debut film Intermission, which I presume had a bigger budget given the fact it starred Cillian Murphy, Colin Farrell, Kelly Macdonald and Colm Meaney, among others. What The Young Offenders lacks, though, is that earlier screenplay’s success when switching from scenes of sadness, desperation and violence to broad comedy in the blink of an eye. Here the transitions from laughs at the expense of a couple of dim young lads to cheerless kitchen sink, straight-up drama are clunky, at best, but the film does occasionally sparkle. (***)