Puckoon : The Film - The Book - The Audio
Now there are many-many tales that the narrator (Richard Attenborough) can tells you about the small Irish province of Puckoon. He could elaborate about the sad tale of the trapped barman, O'Toole (David Kelly). He could recount the simple life of the town’s idiot, Foggerty (Nickolas Grace). Plus he could also explain away the dubious parentage of the towns’ doctor, Dr. Goldstein (Elliott Gould), as well.
But we don’t give a toss about any of them, do we? Instead, we want to know about two separate tales, in which the subsequent tale develops into a cacophony of comedic hi-jinks, and then merges with the initial tale!
Well I tink' so anyway.
You see, the first tale is about how the province of Puckoon was divided up by two opposing parties. The ‘Irish commission’ wanted Puckoon within there jurisdiction. Whilst the ‘British contingent’ wanted Puckoon in there's. However, by the whim of fate (plus the use of a big red pencil) they both got their wish, to the chagrin of the inhabitants living upon this rustic and fictitious land.
Now this is where the second tale joins in with the first tale, don't you know. Or more specifically, town coward, Dan Madigan (Sean Hughes).
In theory, Dan is a simple man by nature. And due to him being scared shitless of his wife (Jane Milligan), he begrudgingly gets a job at the local church which is governed by Father Rudden (Daragh O'Malley). But I am afraid to say that the grounds in which Dan begins to tender to (the cemetery) is split due to the boundary commissions edict, thus advertently causing Dan and Father Rudden quite a lot of strife in the process.
Well, the people whom will be buried within these grounds need to get a visa first, because of administrative control. Namely, English Coronal Stokes (Griff Rhys Jones).
Obviously, this strained turn of events pisses Father Rudden right off, and so he and his clan decide to fight back by digging up their dearly departed, so that they can then bury them again in Puckoon proper.
But can they do this ? What with two Irish ruffians pissing about! The British council devising nefarious plans of their own! And the people of Puckoon so riled with what is happening to their village, that they get Dan to do a very silly thing.
Ha! I suppose that is why what next transpires all kicks off when a coffin is filled with explosives, huh? As ruffians make a mistake - Dan wants to bake a cake - the army comes over all queer - and arguments really kick into gear.
Serious. fust ask the writer, Spike Milligan, as he wrote it!
Now before I give you my review on this comedic Irish tale, 'Puckoon', please allow me to garnish you with some history first. (1) This story was originally published in novel form, and was written by legendary comedic giant, Spike Milligan, who has Irish origins. (2) The original novel is a series of whimsical parables about the inhabitants of Puckoon, which took the piss out of their daily activities and drove Spike mad. (3) An audio book version read by Spike,= has been released on both LP, cassette, and mp3. (4) Puckoon made it to the stage in 2009, and lasted for over a year there. (5) Spike wrote the book while he was in Australia with his parents. (6) Sean Hughes was not meant to play that part of Dan, and was a last minute replacement when the original actor dropped out. (6) The woman playing Dan’s wife in the movie was Jane Milligan, daughter of Spike. And (7) Spike was originally meant to play a small cameo part in the film too, but the bastard went and died on us.
OK, so now that I have gotten all of that out of my system, what do I think of ‘Puckoon’? Well, I liked it myself. But then again I am a very big Spike Milligan fan.
In many ways, I can sense his style all over the place within this story, especially in the anarchic nature that the plot drifts from tale to tale, and how the main actors interact with the narrator of the piece. Moreover, it is due to this 'subversion of the media', which makes this flick feel like Spike's meditation about what he felt relating to certain subject matters too (i.e. politics, surrealism, Irish people, and sheep). Which is a good thing if you think about it, more personable.
My own personal favorite scene in this picture, is the tale in which David Kelly's character tells about his own trapped life - very somber and comical indeed. Also, I enjoyed the whimsical voice over narration by Richard Attenborough too - because it really lent a lyrical and almost literary tone to the overall story. Oh! And lets not forget to mention the stellar all Paddy cast (with a couple of Brits and a Yank too). All of them really just going with the flow, lending themselves to some sort of communal spirit of reckless abandonment.
Granted, not everything was my particular cup of tea. Some of the physical humor appeared overtly contravened. The sets were obviously on a stage and appeared to me 'made for television'. Plus the rambled flavor of this film, does make it a bit confusing in places to boot.
But sod all that. Spike wrote it! So it is a good film. Particularly if you like your tales with a hint of Irish whimsy, splashed with a touch of 'Dr Strangelove' for good measure (click here for the review). Well, if you think about it for a moment, this picture has taken a serious and political topic, subverted it, and then done whatever it felt was right (like most politicians do anyway).
So if you are a fan of British / Irish humor, or even a Spike / Goons buff like myself, pick up a Puckoon today, you won’t be sorry. Right Spike?
What a nut!
THE RATING: B+