Danny Boy is not a very good movie. I take no pleasure in criticising this film. Directed by Ferdia MacAnna, it should be an enjoyable romp! It’s the story of the titular Danny Boy (Darragh Byrne), a socially awkward teenager living in smalltown, 1980s Ireland. Danny’s character motivations are to find love and overcome his stutter. And that premise thoroughly charms me; however, the film itself is tiresome.
It’s hard to identify exactly what goes wrong with Danny Boy. Perhaps it’s the fact that every plot twist is the most obvious and predictable choice. It could also be that the jokes aren’t funny. Case in point: Danny’s snarky sister Meave mocks the names of Danny’s love interests. At one point, he brings home a girl named Carla, and Meave refers to the young woman as “Car Wash”. It’s probably the most memorable gag in the movie. And yet it’s the sort of joke an uncreative seven-year-old would make.
I can forgive an un-funny movie if I care enough about the characters. Given that Danny’s family is reeling from the unexpected departure of his father, there’s a lot of material to mine. And yet, the script doesn’t do much emotional digging. From Danny himself to fast-talking receptionist Donna (Lucy Jones), each character is so one-dimensional, it’s hard invest in them.
Mary Duffin’s script pretty much defines Danny by his stutter and his social awkwardness. The fifteen-year-old Meave is even less interesting, consumed as she is by her obsession with going to the disco. For her part, Danny’s mother hates her neighbour and likes local politics. Otherwise, she’s just the standard shrewish movie mom, who thinks no woman is good enough for her son. Hard pass!
If you’re looking for a feel-good movie (and who isn’t after a year and a half of pandemic life?), I recommend skipping Danny Boy.