Starring: Alex Murphy, Chris Walley, Hilary Rose
Director: Peter Foott
Running Time: 83 mins
The Young Offenders is an Irish film about two teenagers who set out on a mission to retrieve a missing bale of cocaine apparently worth €7 million, cycling 160 kilometres across the south of Ireland on a pair of stolen bikes.
This film is a good bit of fun. With an energetic and consistently light-hearted sense of humour about it from start to finish, complete with an enjoyable and simple story, as well as a collection of really entertaining performances, The Young Offenders is a great laugh to watch throughout.
More often than not, indie comedies like this can think a little too much of themselves, attempting to be more substantial than they really have the ability to do. However, the great thing about The Young Offenders is just how self-aware and down-to-earth it is, with a screenplay that allows you to enjoy it as a simple, easy-going comedy, and yet still offers up enough great laughs for you to stay fully entertained throughout.
The best part of the film definitely comes in the portrayal of its two main characters, the two 15-year-old lads who set out on this insane mission to retrieve a lost bag of cocaine. The film brilliantly pokes fun at the trend of hooligan-like teens, showing the two here off as everything stereotypical about the sort, with their hoodies and low trousers, wheelie-popping and constant bike stealing, however it also fantastically subverts everything about the trend by showing the two as little more than kids.
So, while they may be running around town causing havoc with their antics, the way that the two teens act is almost exactly the way you’d imagine a pair of 9-year-olds would, going off on an adventure together to capture some lost treasure, and ending up in all sorts of bizarre situations where they find themselves barely able to cope without the help of an elder.
In that, the two lead performances from Alex Murphy and Chris Walley are great. The two not only have great chemistry with one another, and make a really convincing pair of mates, but they also pull off this idea of the infantile teenage ruffians fantastically, giving their characters very babyish expressions and mannerisms to further emphasise that notion, which I found hugely funny throughout.
Another thing that I really liked about The Young Offenders was just how simple it is. Of course, that means it may struggle to hold up as an all-time classic of cinema, but in keeping with the film’s small setting and light-hearted comedic vibes, it offers up a very simple story about two kids going on an adventure in search of treasure, and coming across a few weird obstacles along the way.
That’s pretty much it, and although there are elements of the story that show deeper topics like coming-of-age, as well as social issues like abusive parenting and its relationship with youth delinquency, the majority of this movie is one that you can sit back and have simple, unbroken fun with from beginning to end, which I was really impressed to see.
Overall, then, I had a lot of fun with The Young Offenders. It’s not a film that’s going to set the world alight, but it does the job of a small indie comedy thanks to a really funny screenplay and a great sense of humour, complete with two great central performances, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6.