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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan

"WAITING FOR DUBLIN"


 
If you're one of those people who frequently lament that movies have lost some of their old-fashioned charm, you might take a liking to Waiting for Dublin. I suppose "old-fashioned" might sound like an insult in today's cinematic climate, but I don't mean it that way. This is a new movie that feels like an old movie - a decision I believe was quite intentional. While the plot isn't entirely successful in achieving the farcical tone it aims for, there's undeniably something endearing about it.

The story begins in Chicago, New Year's Eve 1944. An American pilot named Mike Clarke bets Al Capone's nephew that he can shoot down five enemy planes during the war. Unfortunately for Mike, he runs seriously low on fuel over an isolated Irish village and is forced to land there, having only knocked four enemies out of the sky. The town is full of colorful characters: the narcoleptic priest, the blind guy who doesn't seem to realize that he's blind, and the young lass desperate to find a husband. Her name is Maggie (Jade Yourell), and she immediately pegs Mike as husband material, much to his dismay. (He's definitely interested in sex, but she won't give in without a commitment.)

Mike hatches a plan to save his skin. Also hanging out in the town is a German defector with a plane of his own. If Mike can somehow shoot that guy's plane down, he can claim with all honesty that he won the bet. This being a comedy of errors, the plan is easy in conception, a lot harder in execution.

There is no explicit sex or violence in Waiting for Dublin, and only a few minor instances of swearing. The film takes the age-old idea of dropping a wide-eyed outsider into the midst of eccentrics, then watching him try to apply logic and reason where none exists. The romance between Mike and Maggie is chaste, made up of alternating teasing looks and verbal jabs, much like in a vintage screwball comedy. Everything about the movie is kind of low-key, and pleasant, and quaint. I liked those things about it. Okay, my taste in movies is often edgier and grittier, but I think director Roger Tucker and screenwriter Chuck Conaway were deliberately attempting to recapture the feel of a typical 1940's picture.

What they are less successful at is making the premise work. Mike makes his bet within the first two minutes of the film. A little longer introduction would have been preferable, especially since it might have established Mike's bravado a bit more fully. The whole bet concept also runs out of steam toward the end, resulting in the kind of deus ex machina that makes you feel a little gypped. The ways in which Mike's plan fall apart often stretch the limits of credibility, as well.

Thankfully, there are enough things that work to make Waiting for Dublin a decent DVD rental. Andrew Keegan does a fine job playing the perplexed outsider, there are some moments of good-natured comedy, and the flying sequences are exceptionally well-done given the film's low budget. (The vintage planes are amazing to look at.) Even when the story wasn't meeting its full potential, I remained involved because everything else was agreeable enough to earn my attention.

I think you can tell whether or not Waiting for Dublin is for you. If you're in the mood for something cutting edge, you won't find anything here to hold you. On the other hand, if you've watched all your favorite old movies a million times and are looking for something new that approximates their look and feel, then this is certainly worth a rental. It's available on DVD now from Cinema Libre Studio.

( 1/2 out of four)


Waiting for Dublin is unrated R but contains mild language. The running time is 1 hour and 25 minutes.

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