I’m neither D’isappointed or D’elighted by Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie (2014)


If you’re not a fan of Brendan O’Carroll’s iconic, foul-mouthed Dublin mammy, there’s nothing in this movie that’s going to change your mind, and you might as well just feck off right now and read a different post. If you are a fan however, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised at how much of the anarchically live, fourth wall breaking spirit of the show survives the transition to the big screen, although it by no means makes the leap unscathed.

The plot, such as it is, concerns crooked local politician P R Irwin (Dermot Crowley) and his shady dealings with a Russian businessman to build a new shopping complex but around half way through the film it switches to being mostly about Mrs Brown’s granny’s unpaid tax bill which somehow ends up linking tangentially back to the Russian mobster plot. Along the way, there’s a brief dalliance with an attempt at pathos, and a self-declared attempt to invoke “Sophie’s Choice” during the obligatory ‘all is lost’ moment.

The principle cast bring their performances to the screen to the best of their abilities but there’s no denying the bulk of the show’s energy and charm comes from feeding off the presence of a live audience and while it’s referenced a few times, notably in a very early and clever transition from a plywood set to a real location, the film struggles to maintain the level of self-referential humour that it needed. There are occasional bloopers and alternate takes included in the main body of the film but only sporadically and without real guile or wit which prevents them from elevating the comedy onto a different level.

While Mrs Brown (Brendan O’Carroll), Winnie (Eilish O’Carroll) and Buster (Danny O’Carroll) are given plenty to do by the story, the rest of the cast are short changed to make room for some new characters, some of which succeed: small time lawyer Tom Crews (Simon Delaney) and Barrister Maydo Archer (Robert Bathurst) and some of which fall uncomfortably, disastrously flat: the horribly misjudged and deeply racist Mr Wang (Brendan O’Carroll, taking a role written for Burt Kwouk), although there’s some comedy mileage in his troupe of blind ninjas. Despite early promise, the pacing, editing and general direction of the film becomes sloppier and more haphazard as it goes on until, by the finale, it reaches the point where scenes are just slapped together in an approximate order so you can just about follow what’s going on.

Giving “Walking On Sunshine” a real run for its money in terms of most ineptly made film of 2014, “Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie” succeeds largely due to the enormous goodwill it brings from its run on TV where the half hour studio audience format better hides the occasionally threadbare writing and acting. Substituting character and plot driven laughs with on-set japes and corpsing may work on TV but there are times in the film – noticeably when Mrs Brown herself isn’t on screen – where the thinness of the material feels desperately exposed. It’s a real throwback to the cheap and cheerful movie spin-offs ‘enjoyed’ by the sitcoms of the sixties and seventies and like them, it’s cheap, cheerful, crude and occasionally offensive to current sensibilities. Unashamedly parochial, it’s a decent attempt to bring the TV series to a larger Dublin-based canvas and it’s probably the case that had it been any slicker and well structured, it simply wouldn’t have been recognisably the same animal.