The presence of Gillian Anderson can't elevate by-the-numbers adolescent dog-racing drama "The Mighty Celt" above the pack. Pic will be mighty popular at small-fry fests and could score play dates in indiscriminate foreign markets but seems more suitable for puberty-pitched cablers.

The presence of Gillian Anderson, who hasn’t made a proper, non-”X Files” movie since 2000′s “House of Mirth,” can’t elevate by-the-numbers adolescent dog-racing drama “The Mighty Celt” above the pack. Pic will be mighty popular at small-fry fests and could score play dates in indiscriminate foreign markets but seems more suitable for puberty-pitched cablers.

In contempo Belfast, young Donal (Tyrone McKenna) spends most of his non-school hours working for greyhound owner Good Joe (Ken Stott). So amoral and ruthless that losing dogs get tied in a sack and chucked into a nearby lake, Good Joe grudgingly agrees to let Donal raise a hound he names the Mighty Celt. Meanwhile, Donal’s bitter, single mom Kate (Anderson, with a spot-on accent), rekindles an old relationship with O (Robert Carlyle), who is surprised to learn he’s Donal’s Da. Good Joe drugs Donal’s dog to win a bet, then metes out customary punishment when he loses. O talks Donal out of exacting revenge on Good Joe. Debuting writer-helmer Pearse Elliott marches briskly through the material, with little pause for reflection or honest emotion. Thesping is capable, tech credits efficient.

The Mighty Celt

U.K.-Ireland

Production

A BBC Films presentation, in association with the Irish Film Board, the Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission, of a Treasure Entertainment Production. (International sales: The Works, London.) Produced by Robert Walpole, Paddy McDonald, Paddy Breathnach. Directed, written by Pearse Elliott.

Crew

Camera (color), Seamus Deasy; editor, Dermot Diskin; music, Adrian Johnston; production designer, Tom McCullagh; costume designer, Hazel Webb Crozier. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Kinderfilmfest/14plus), Feb. 18, 2005. Running time: 81 MIN.

With

Tyrone McKenna, Robert Carlyle, Gillian Anderson, Ken Stott.
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