The Hardy Bucks Movie
What started out as an online series has become an Irish comedy phenomenon – now for the movie spin-off and a road trip to the Euros
It can be difficult to document the best holidays, particularly when you're having so much fun.
This was never more true than in June 2012, when five friends and I embarked on what we consequently dubbed ‘the Eurostuffing’ – a three-week campervan trip crisscrossing Germany and Poland following Republic of Ireland’s shambolic attempts to play football during Euro 2012.
We eventually landed back home several thousand zloty lighter (and minus a passport, in my case), but, nevertheless, still on a high (i.e. the craic was mighty). But tagged Facebook photographs and increasingly exaggerated anecdotes only tell some of the story. Whereas a film, for example, would offer a bit more context and detail.
Well – smack me up and call me Trapattoni – a bunch of intrepid Irish lads actually went and made that film.
The Hardy Bucks Movie was shot in and around the mass Irish exodus to Poland. The cast and crew even stayed in the same Poznan campsite as us. Frustratingly, however, my friends and I missed a call-out for extras, presumably because we were too busy discussing variables of 4-4-2 and snorkelling Polish lager.
Fortunately for the hundreds of Irish football fans who made the trip to Poland – and the thousands who didn’t – this trans-continental adventure featuring the County Mayo lads is most welcome.
Starting out life as a viral internet hit, before winning an RTÉ short film competition and earning two series on the Republic’s national broadcaster, Hardy Bucks is set in Castletown, a typically sleepy, rain-soaked Irish village in Mayo.
The television series focuses on the often hilarious misadventures of Eddie, Buzz, Frenchtoast and The Boo, a titular group of young men and their constant attempts to earn enough money to alleviate boredom through drink and drugs. A less surreal Rubberbandits blessed with a dash of Father Ted, Hardy Bucks is a character-driven Irish satire, produced mockumentary-style, that has achieved sizeable cult success.
Even with all the YouTube hits and Facebook likes, however, it's remarkable that Hardy Bucks has made it to the big screen. Thanks to funding from the Irish Film Board, production support from Universal Studios, and the efforts of the cast – who created, wrote and star in the series and the movie – somehow it did.
The plot of The Hardy Bucks Movie is perfunctory even by comedy road trip standards. The Bucks – spearheaded by flame-haired ringleader, Eddie Durkan – aim to get to Poznan for the Republic’s final game against Italy.
Facing the usual road trip issues – clapped out motor, lack of funds, ubiquitous drug-soaked detour to Amsterdam – they end up joining forces with erstwhile antagonist and small-time hash dealer, Francis ‘The Viper’ Higgins, whose gormless arrogance and spot-on comic timing combined to create the show’s breakout star. (The Viper is perhaps best known for a pseudo-commentary on a London 2012 Olympic sailing event that went viral.)
Compared to the rough-edged standards of the television show, this low-budget follow-up is a fairly tidy affair, although it could, perhaps, have used an extra day or two in the editing suite. It does suffer from confused story framing at times – injecting lazy voiceovers to string the narrative together never quite works, and the occasional DIY special effects are rudimentary, to say the least.
But none of that really matters, because The Hardy Bucks Movie is funny and warm and choke-full of character. It is basically a feature length episode of the TV show: same writer and director (Mike Cockayne), same cast, same gross-out comedy sensibility, and featuring occasionally inspired improvised dialogue.
It can be hit-and-miss at times, but when it builds some momentum, The Hardy Bucks Movie is capable of some big belly-laugh moments, as when the lads visit Amsterdam to revel in the city's well-known and thoroughly legal temptations.
Still, can it justify its existence? Thanks to the low-budget, the creators have already turned a profit. And if the movie increases ratings for the TV series, then mission accomplished. But, for this viewer – and plenty of others with hazy memories of a Polish June – The Hardy Bucks Movie is more than just a road trip comedy. Rather, it acts as a kind of documentary salute to a summer of fans, cans and campervans.