Inspired by the true story of Ireland’s biggest cocaine seizure in 2007, The Young Offenders is a comedy road movie about best friends Conor (Alex Murphy) and Jock (Chris Walley), two inner-city teenagers from Cork who dress the same, act the same, and even have the same bum-fluff moustaches.
Jock is a legendary bike thief who plays a daily game of cat-and-mouse with the bike-theft-obsessed Garda Sergeant Healy. When a drug-trafficking boat capsizes off the coast of West Cork and 61 bales of cocaine, each worth €7m, are seized, word gets out that there is a bale missing. The boys steal two bikes and go on a road trip hoping to find the missing bale which they can sell so as to escape their troubled home lives…. But Sergeant Healy is in hot pursuit.
The Young Offenders is many things but first and foremost it is funny. That may seem a minor thing but given what often passes as 'comedy' in a multiplex setting it was really refreshing to go to the cinema and have a really good laugh at the adventures of these two loveable miscreants.
I lost count of the number of times the film made me laugh and at times I worried I was laughing too much around my fellow reviewers!
Part of the charm goes down to the two main performances. Right from the opening sequence, both actors draw you in, you easily recognise that they are a couple of teenage chancers. However, as Conor and Jock discuss what they would do if they were millionaires you instantly warm to them both and are on board with their ridiculous caper. A little backstory, well told, and the inference of difficult upbringings helps garner sympathy for the desire these lads have to get out of their surroundings and do better for themselves.
Yes, they are troublemakers and yes they set off in the pursuit of cocaine to make their fortune but you are rooting for them on their travels and laughing as they go! However viewers should be warned that there are dark moments along the route. The entire jaunt is not all about the laughs but also about the difficulties the pair face on their journey of discovery.
I really hope that this film finds an audience because it is more than deserving of one. I do have slight reservations that it may not translate that well outside of these Irish shores (this Belfast boy did have to tune his ears in to the Cork accent initially). However, I am hopeful that the charm of Jock and Conor wins audiences over as it did me.
The Young Offenders is in selected cinemas from 9th December.
Thanks to MovieHouse for screening access .