The boys of The Bachelor Weekend (Tribeca Film)

The boys of The Bachelor Weekend (Tribeca Film)

Directed by John Butler
Produced by Rebecca O’Flanagan and Robert Walpole
Written by John Butler and Peter McDonald
Released by Tribeca Film
Ireland. 94 min. Not rated
With Andrew Scott, Hugh O’Conor, Peter McDonald, Brian Gleeson, and Amy Huberman

If you’ve always thought, “Boy, it would be nice to have an Irish version of the Hangover films, but with a little less humor and a little more heart,” you may now look no further.

Fionnan (Hugh O’Conor) is about to marry Ruth (Amy Huberman), but he’s a little too interested in seating charts and color schemes. He works in the theater, and we are reminded, wink wink, about men who work in the theater. Ruth asks the best man, Davin (Andrew Scott), to organize a manly bachelor weekend in the great outdoors to beef up her beau. There are only two catches (the A plot and B plot): Davin and Ruth used to date and he’s still in love with her; the party’s going to be crashed by Ruth’s wild and crazy brother, The Machine (Peter McDonald).

The Machine offers up healthy servings of “bro” humor throughout. There is a gay couple in the stag party, whom Davin refers to as “trannies” to try and dissuade The Machine from joining. But The Machine is not deterred. He claims he’s no homophobe—he just happens to sound an awful lot like one. It’s a familiar pattern in pop culture: having one’s PC cake and eating the tasteless laughs, too.

The Machine also happens to be the self-appointed keeper of “stag protocol,” and as such he quickly plunges the group into chaos. Real men don’t use a compass. Real men take ecstasy and run around naked in the freezing cold. That visual is the high point of the gags, which also include the desecration of a grave and an extended masturbation sequence.

However, this ragged band of brothers does begin to grow on one, as does the writing, which eventually shows method to The Machine’s madness. One by one, he gets the members of the party to confront the elephant in their respective rooms. Then, when the introspective spotlight is turned back on The Machine, McDonald makes us feel for a man who risks losing what he loves because he can’t manage to grow up.

There is a strong Irish heart beating beneath the sometimes crass humor. That heart races a bit too wildly by the end when sentimentality takes over, but it is at its most affecting when Davin sings the torch song “Raglan Road” around a campfire. His feeling of unrequited love is convincingly and movingly depicted.

Ultimately, not unlike the members of the bachelor weekend, one stumbles to the end  feeling slightly better off for having taken the journey. The characters, however, had no choice but to spend time with The Machine. The audience may or may not do so willingly.