Running Time: 83 minutes
UK Certificate: pg
Country: United Kingdom
'Puckoon' is adapted from a novel written by Spike Milligan in 1963 about the political divide in Ireland; managing to turn one of history's most famous disputes into a comedy featuring the small fictional Irish town of 'Puckoon'. The film tells how this village was halved accidentally by the border separating Ulster and the Irish Free State after months of careful planning was destroyed by a bicycle accident which ruined their equipment and work!
Terence Ryan's adaptation does not do justice to the comedy created by Spike Milligan, and is far less successful that the novel was. Although there are humourous elements such as the villiage priest's attempts to get coffins accross the border from the church on one side to the graveyard on the other, and the deceased must have a passport! Also, the people of 'Puckoon' all stand on one side of the pub (which has been halved by the border) so that they can get cheaper beer! For these infrequent moments of true comedy, there are many more confusingly unfunny scenes such as the discussion between Sean Hughes as Madigan and Richard Attenborough about his knees! 'Puckoon' attempts to cram in too many jokes, and as a result fails miserably in really being funny at all. As the film says, it's all about "knowing where to draw the line"!
Richard Attenborough takes a good command of the film, which is what you should expect from such a highly regarded performer. He plays the writer, who is 'God', and controls all the characters within the film. Most of his performance is in the form of voiceovers, but they hold what is an extremely disjointed film together. The performance from John Michie, an actor of 'Taggart' fame, is very poor in this film despite him being reasonably talented.
This film was quite disappointing, but in saying that was a nice break from the usual violence, depression, and busy nature of most films. If you are after something more than that though, don't go and see this film.
I get the impression that what was produced was all what was aimed for, and Spike Milligan, before his death, was pleased with the outcome; making 'Puckoon' a very good way to honour him!
It's Got: Escapism for the audience!
It Needs: Less featured characters.
For a comedy, the humour is strange and not funny in the adaptation!