Monday, January 23, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—The Guard (2011) ***

R, 96 min.
Director/Writer: John Michael McDonagh
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong, David Wilmot, Rory Keenan, Fionnula Flanagan, Dominique McElligott, Katarina Cas

“The Guard” is an Irish crime comedy about a curmudgeonly veteran police officer who teams up with an American FBI agent to stop a gang of drug runners in a small Irish port city. The typical nature of this odd buddy pairing doesn’t suggest the unique nature of this comedy. I suspect it is wholly Irish in its arid humor that makes a good deal of British humor look down right saturated.

That hulking teddy bear Brendan Gleeson—best known as Professor Alastor ‘Mad Eye’ Moody from the “Harry Potter” films—plays the policeman with an attitude that he’s so sick of life, he’s finally learned how to enjoy it. He’ll sample some LSD from a perp if he happens to come across some. He feels free to talk about it as well. Yet, he’s been around long enough to know that what floats in water and is shaped like a miniature log is probably something you don’t want to eat. The ever-undervalued Don Cheadle plays the FBI agent. Gleeson has great fun breaking every PC rule in dealing with this fish out of water.

This is a droll comedy dealt out with the high violence levels common in British crime movies. It probably won’t win over American viewers used to the slapstick nature of our comedians, but it works at the audience in a sort of sublime way that is nice to soak in for a while. It’s unique characters and humor make for an original take on an old formula.

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