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Alan MaxWell [Celluloid 02.01.10] Ireland (Republic of) review comedy drama

Year: 2009
Directors: John Carney
Writers: John Carney & Kieran Carney
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Alan Maxwell
Rating: 8 out of 10

In a small Irish town that feels like some Pleasantville-inspired alternate reality where the 1950s have never ended, the happy Cassidy family return home from watching a meteor shower to discover a portly man (Simon Delaney) in an outrageous outfit lying in the front room of their house. His name is Zonad and he's from outer space.

Or at least that's his story. The audience are very quickly alerted to the fact that this man isn't all he seems but in keeping this secret hidden from the population of the town, writer-director partnership John and Kieran Carney wring plenty of laughs from the contrast between our cynical modern attitudes represented by Zonad and the idealised vision of happiness that forms the life of the rest of the cast.

Despite the potential for bad taste in having this modern brute disrupting the innocent picture postcard world (and there are some adult jokes that are very definitely above the heads of the naive population), the film never quite crosses the line. It's not that there isn't any crude humour - a scene where Zonad attempts to seduce the teenage daughter of the family in a parked car is hilarious - but rather that the Carneys' script (an expanded version of a previous short film) never feels mean-spirited in anyway.

It helps that the cast are all terrific in their roles. While Delaney steals the show as Zonad, a healthy comedy double act is formed when his potential nemesis (David Pearse) arrives on the scene. Of the local residents themselves, everyone appears to be having a ball but the standouts are Geoff Minogue (previously seen in John Carney's hit musical Once) as the stern but loving Cassidy father, Janice Byrne as daughter Jenny Cassidy, who clearly isn't as innocent as she appears, and Rory Keenan as the American boy who sees Zonad as a rival for Jenny's affection.

Such is the likable nature of the cast, even the occasional moment of coarse language or sexual humour never feel out of place. As if to emphasise the good natured fun of it all, there's even time for Delaney to squeeze out a couple of songs (though anyone expecting anything like the songs in Carney's Once is probably going to get a surprise).

The story, such as it is, doesn't exactly hold up to any serious scrutiny but with a lovable, believable cast and a warm-hearted script packed with cheeky laughs, it never matters. Zonad is that rare beast, an adult comedy that feels like a family movie, and is an absolute joy from start to finish.

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Franjo Lagani (9 years ago) Reply

just saw this movie and I completely agree with the review, it's simply fun

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