×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns

Having mined classics like "Gulliver's Travels" and "Alice in Wonderland" for some satisfying special effects-driven minis, the team of Hallmark and NBC is clearly running out of appropriate source material. So instead of finding full-fledged stories to tell, they've now conjured four hours from little more than the idea of a mythical character that is best known to Americans as a cereal pitchman. Screenwriter Peter Barnes laboriously pieces together a narrative, borrowing obviously and heavily from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" to give "The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns" a necessary, but jarring, push. Perhaps next time, we'll be treated to a "King Lear" with live-action Smurfs.

With:
Jack Woods.....Randy Quaid The Grand Banshee.....Whoopi Goldberg King Boric.....Roger Daltrey Seamus Muldoon ..... Colm Meaney Barney Devine .....Kieran Culkin Mary Muldoon .....Zoe Wanamaker Mickey Muldoon ..... Daniel Betts Kathleen Fitzpatrick..... Orla Brady Princess Jessica..... Caroline Carver General Bulstrode .....Frank Finlay Lady Margaret .....Phyllida Law Father Daley.....Michael Williams Queen Morag.....Harriet Walter

Having mined classics like “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Alice in Wonderland” for some satisfying special effects-driven minis, the team of Hallmark and NBC is clearly running out of appropriate source material. So instead of finding full-fledged stories to tell, they’ve now conjured four hours from little more than the idea of a mythical character that is best known to Americans as a cereal pitchman. Screenwriter Peter Barnes laboriously pieces together a narrative, borrowing obviously and heavily from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” to give “The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns” a necessary, but jarring, push. Perhaps next time, we’ll be treated to a “King Lear” with live-action Smurfs.

Randy Quaid plays Jack Woods, an American businessman who has come to a remote part of Ireland with the unstated, and therefore undoubtedly ill-advised, mission of buying up land for some capitalist venture.

After settling into a cottage, he goes walking in the woods, where he spies a beautiful woman (Orla Brady) bathing in a river. Jack discovers the woman is his neighbor, Kathleen, opening the door to one of the pic’s parallel love interests.

Meanwhile, Jack begins to notice that things tend to move about in his cabin for no apparent reason, especially a jug of homemade alcohol given to him by the landlord. When he spots a “little person” under the table, Jack gives chase, and ends up rescuing the creature when it falls into the river.

In a fun sequence, Jack then follows the invisible leprechaun’s dripping footprints back to the cottage, where Seamus Muldoon (Colm Meaney) finally shows himself, explaining that a leprechaun is in permanent debt to any human who helps him. After Jack nearly passes out from shock at the discovery of this secret world, Seamus introduces his wee family, which consists of wife Mary, a saucy Zoe Wanamaker, and son Mickey (Daniel Betts).

As Jack attempts to court Kathleen, the story turns to the leprechauns. Mickey, who, with his pals, invades the ball of the leprechauns’ natural enemies , the Trooping Fairies, falls in love with Princess Jessica (Caroline Carver), a match which will upset both of their families. Their love will ultimately lead to the accidental death of Mickey’s best friend (Tony Curran) and Jessica’s cousin (Jonathan Firth). Sound familiar?

There are a few differences here, and the story does abandon the Shakespearean plot for awhile, returning to it unconvincingly at the end. In leprechaun-land, the ultimate power is the Grand Banshee (Whoopi Goldberg), who has become so impatient with the constant bickering between the different fairy types that she takes away their immortality. It doesn’t help; even though both the leprechauns and the fairies are not cut out for battle, the two sides gear up for war, lead by Seamus on the one hand and King Boric (Roger Daltrey) on the other.

The human and leprechaun plots collide as Seamus enlists Jack’s help in preparing his rag-tag army for battle, promising to help Jack with Kathleen in return. Jack is also confronting his own moral dilemma, as he realizes his landed mission for the company is not in the interest of the locals.

The second night follows the efforts of Jack and Kathleen and Mickey and Jessica as they struggle to bring peace before all of Ireland is destroyed by the war. In a strange tonal twist, the second evening is actually far more amusing than the first, since watching leprechauns who’d rather drink than fight , and spoiled fairies conduct a war is more light-hearted than threatening.

The narrative here is all over the place, concerned less with unifying the story and more with finding new opportunities for special effects. And while there are some charming performances, particularly Colm Meaney as Seamus and Daniel Betts as Mickey, the fact that most of the actors were talking to a blue screen is noticeable. There’s often a feeling of disconnection in the scenes between the humans and leprechauns that isn’t intended.

While the tech credits are excellent, what the mini doesn’t fully capture is the sense of whimsy or rapscallion nature of the leprechauns. Without more needed touches of exuberant comedy from director John Henderson, and with a bland human plotline, the mini as a whole drags along, with only brief moments of offbeat leprechaun humor to give a sense of what could have been.

The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns

(MINISERIES; NBC; SUN. NOV. 7, 9 P.M. & MON. NOV. 8, 8 P.M.)

Production: Filmed at Shepperton Studios, London, by Hallmark Entertainment in association with RTL Television. Executive producer, Robert Halmi Sr.; producer, Paul Lowin; director, John Henderson; writer, Peter Barnes.

Crew: Camera, Clive Tickner; production designer, Simon Holland; editors, Pamela Power, Paul Endacott; music, Richard Harvey; costumes, Anne Hollowood; casting, Lynn Kressel; visual effects, Cinesite (Europe) Ltd. 4 HOURS

With: Jack Woods.....Randy Quaid The Grand Banshee.....Whoopi Goldberg King Boric.....Roger Daltrey Seamus Muldoon ..... Colm Meaney Barney Devine .....Kieran Culkin Mary Muldoon .....Zoe Wanamaker Mickey Muldoon ..... Daniel Betts Kathleen Fitzpatrick..... Orla Brady Princess Jessica..... Caroline Carver General Bulstrode .....Frank Finlay Lady Margaret .....Phyllida Law Father Daley.....Michael Williams Queen Morag.....Harriet WalterWith: Kevin McKidd, Tony Curran, Gary Lydon, Jonathan Firth, Clive Merrison, Stephen Moore.

More Film

  • Daniel Craig

    Daniel Craig to Undergo Ankle Surgery After 'Bond 25' Injury

    Daniel Craig will undergo ankle surgery after sustaining an injury while filming “Bond 25.” “Daniel Craig will be undergoing minor ankle surgery resulting from an injury sustained during filming in Jamaica,” the franchise’s official Twitter account posted. “Production will continue whilst Craig is rehabilitating for two weeks post-surgery. The film remains on track for the [...]

  • Oh Mercy

    Cannes Film Review: 'Oh Mercy'

    It takes more than just watching “Oh Mercy” to understand exactly why Arnaud Desplechin was drawn to the subject matter of his latest movie, a reasonably engrossing police procedural with roots in a 2008 TV documentary. Something of an unexpected detour in the veteran director’s weighty career, the film combines multiple strands to paint a [...]

  • Spielberg's Amblin Chief Jeff Small on

    Listen: Spielberg's Amblin Chief on Making 'Movies in the Middle'

    With the sequel “A Dog’s Journey” now in theaters, Amblin Partners continues to find ways to release the kind of films that aren’t typical of what dominates American multiplexes these days. An follow-up to the 2017 surprise hit “A Dog’s Purpose,” “Journey” is just another example of the cinematic strategy evident at Amblin, the production [...]

  • I Lost My Body

    French Animation 'I Lost My Body' Tops Cannes Critics' Week Winners

    “I Lost My Body,” a dark French animated film from writer-director Jérémy Clapin, has come up trumps in this year’s Critics’ Week program at the Cannes Film Festival, taking the strand’s top honor, the Nespresso Grand Prize. The film, which follows a young man’s severed hand as it struggles to be reunited with its own, [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Talent Agents Blast Verve Agreement With Writers Guild

    The lead negotiator for Hollywood’s talent agencies has again blasted the Writers Guild and its recent agreement with the Verve agency — and cautioned other agencies against following suit. Verve defected from the major agencies on May 16 when it became the first sizable Hollywood talent agency to sign the WGA’s Code of Conduct. That [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content