Starring: Andrew Scott, Hugh O’Conor, Peter McDonald
Despite his wedding being in the next few weeks, self confessed metro sexual Fionnán (O’Conor) has no intention of having a stag do. However, his bride to be Ruth (Amy Huberman) feels he should perhaps toughen up a little and so she talks best man Davin (Scott) into persuading Fionnán to have a manly stag do. However this ‘manly’ stag do consists of five friends having a sober weekend long hike in the countryside, and doing all they can to try and avoid Ruth’s brother The Machine (McDonald) joining them. However this loose cannon does manage to hunt them down and join them, and the six of them embark on a turbulent weekend of male bonding that takes many unexpected turns.
Though a group of blokes with various personalities spending a weekend together out of their respective elements is not the most original premise, it is still a tried and tested one that can certainly deliver when done right. Unfortunately though The Stag does have some genuine laughs and heart warming moments, there is a predominant niggling feeling that this very likeable and watchable Irish comedy could have been better if the writers had taken a few more risks.
Many of the character arcs and story developments, though of course inevitable, are quite clumsily written and grate quite a bit as they can be seen way before they happen. The characters naturally all have their differences and though this does produce some great comedy at times, the character arc of The Machine (yes that is his name) is very ineptly written. This is a shame as this often undermines our engagement with characters as all the actors are very likeable, but do play their characters admittedly quite safe.
However once the story gets underway from quite a slow start and the boys get in the countryside there are some genuinely funny moments. Like so many films of this nature that play it safe the laughs are perhaps more light than side splitting, but The Stag is still a far more pleasant antidote to truly abrasive films with similar premises such as The Hangover sequels, The Inbetweeners 2 or many mainstream comedies. It does often feel that screenwriters John Butler and Peter McDonald were given a narrative checklist for their film to diligently follow, and diligently follow it they did.
The Stag is a very watchable blend of light hearted comedy and occasional schmaltz that will not offend anyone, with likeable characters and occasional moments of genuine laughter. However the lack of fulfilled potential from the cast and premise does ultimately render it highly forgettable.