The Young Offenders are two hapless young teenage lads growing up in Cork, Ireland. Conor MacSweeney and Jock Murphy are inseparable friends. In fact, Conor's Mum says that they are Siamese twins because they share the same brain. Jock's Dad is an abusive alcoholic and Conor's Mum struggles to raise him on her own. So with all of the odds stacked up against them, the two lads dream up ways to make their dreary lives better.
Most of these dreams involve mindless acts to break up the endless boredom of their daily lives. But in a world where cash is king, Conor works with his Mum at the local fishmonger's. And the ever-resourceful Jock has become famous in Cork as a highly efficient bike thief. However, a boat off the coast of County Cork, loses huge amounts of cocaine in Irelands biggest ever drug seizure. With each bail falling into the sea worth over seven million Euros, the boys see the answer to their dreams, the key to the door of their news lives. They set off on a 160km pushbike adventure to get themselves a seven million bundle of future freedom. But, will they get there in time, will they find their cocaine or will they stuff it up like they do everything else?
There have been heaps of fantastic Irish comedies, all with their own unique humour. But in recent years there has been a great selection of comedies based on young people growing up in Ireland, like Derry Girls. The Young Offenders is right up there with the very best of them. The creator, writer, and director Peter Foot captures the characters perfectly. But more importantly, The Young Offenders hits the viewer with a relentless pummeling of genuinely funny but sometimes tragic comedy. Just brilliantly written with genuine characters, that Foot directs well too.
It takes real talent to deliver a great comedy script well. So, the stars of The Young Offenders really do turn this into something special. Heading the cast, playing Conor and Jock are Alex Murphy and Chris Whalley. These guys are just amazing and give possibly the best comedy portrayal of young adolescent males seen anywhere. PJ Gallagher delivers his lines to total perfection and captures his handicapped drug dealer role in the way that possibly only he can. Dominic McHale does a good job with his part as the tragically persistent Garda Seargent who will stop at nothing to find the Cork bike thief. But, for me, the real standout comes from Hilary Rose who plays Conor's mum. She has some genuinely touching scenes but pulls them off with aplomb. But also executes a barrage of the best one-liners in the whole film.
Ok, it's worth pointing out that The Young Offenders is first and foremost a comedy so the storyline is a little predictable. Peter Foot is not writing a tense thriller here. That's not to say however that there is no complexity to the backstory. Foot does an excellent job of weaving moments of real tenderness into the film. In fact, the story is based on the actual real-life events of Irelands biggest drug seizure. This actually adds to the authenticity of Conor and Jocks actions.
So, you may have guessed it, I genuinely enjoyed The Young Offenders. On paper, it appears to be a simplistic idea and could have been just that. But, there is much more to this excellent coming of age comedy. As with all good comedies, we are invited in an intimate way to the darker more tragic side of the characters. But, there are plenty of outrageous moments too to counter that brilliantly. If you are looking for a good laugh, then let me tell you, The Young Offenders should be at the top of your list.