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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Stag


Starring: Andrew Scott, Hugh O'Conor, Peter McDonald, Brian Gleeson, Andrew Bennett, Michael Legge and Amy Huberman
Distributor: Arrow Films
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 21 July 2014

Badgered into a stag do by his bride-to-be, Fionnan is determined to avoid the cliches of booze, babes and more booze and defers to his best man, Davin, to organise a sedate sojourn in the Irish countryside. All goes to plan until Fionnan's soon-to-be brother-in-law, The Machine, invites himself along - and with The Machine travels mayhem which materialises in the form of lost clothes, lost dignity and some hopelessly ill-equipped and very lost men...

For those coming to The Stag with no idea what to expect, you'll be in for a pleasant surprise. I was expecting a sort of low brow Staggered (1994) where the majority of the comedy was going to come from ridiculous pranks and tomfoolery courtesy of the mysterious The Machine. In reality The Stag is a much deeper and subtle film than the marketing would suggest.

The basic premise is simple. Fionnan is getting married to Ruth, but he is getting a bit too carried away with organising every facet of the wedding. Concerned that he's ruining their big day, Ruth asks Fionnan's best man, Davin, to orchestrate a stag do so that Fionnan can take a break from being such a control freak. Once everything is organised, Ruth checks that they've invited her brother, known as The Machine, along too.

Fionnan tells everyone that he's a nightmare and that there is no way he can come along and so Davin tries to avoid contacting The Machine and letting him know their plans. However, Ruth tells him anyway and he turns up to the hotel on their first night. What was supposed to be an alcohol and event free trek in the country looks set to become a bit of a nightmare as The Machine insists on giving Fionnan a proper stag do.

The Stag could so easily have become a low brow farce, but writers John Butler and Peter McDonald (who also plays The Machine) have crafted a beautiful story with three dimensional characters that you really start to care about. Whilst, when he first appears, The Machine seems a bit of a nightmare, as the film unfolds he soon becomes a character that it's hard not to warm to - he's the sort of guy you'd want watching your back.

This is a film with real heart; a movie that is just inside the realms of believability with characters that you'll instantly care about. So, when Davin's heart is stripped bear, you really do feel for him and when The Machine opens up and lays his heart on the line, you'll have a lump in your throat.

Extras are a little disappointing, mainly because they tell you nothing you haven't gleaned from the film and include the same handful of clips over and over again. We get Cast Interviews (10 min, 06 sec. Which sees the cast and crew talking about the characters); An Interview with Andrew Scott (3 min, 30 sec interview with the actor that plays Davin); Vue West End Premiere Featurette (4 min, 15 sec general interviews with cast and crew); West End Premiere Footage (2 min, 23 sec interviews with cast and crew); Premiere Reactions (1 min, 18 sec brief interviews with audience impression of the film - all positive of course).

The Stag is a sweet, funny movie with a wonderful script and impressive cast.


Darren Rea

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