The Van Review

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Roddy Doyle's popular trilogy of Barrytown stories reaches its cinematic conclusion in the author's own adaptation of the tale centred on an unemployed odd couple and their efforts to make a killing peddling fish and chips.Thus far, Doyle's people-friendly emotional comedies have scored resoundingly. Alan Parker's film of The Commitments was a tough act to follow, but Frears brought a grittier style to the simpler story of The Snapper and it worked wonderfully. Alas, virtually the same team that made that are unable to duplicate its raffish charm here.

Colm Meaney - who has played more or less the same irrepressible bigmouth with ebullience in all three films - is bossy, happy-go-lucky Larry, long out of work but ever keen on a get-rich-quick scheme. When his more anxious, responsible but docile buddy Bimbo (O'Kelly) is laid off and panicked by the spectre of poverty, he's persuaded to invest his meagre redundancy money in a stomach-turningly disgusting fast food vehicle. The 1990 World Cup is imminent and so the pals prepare optimistically for post-pub football hordes craving greasy takeaways. As their fortunes fluctuate, so does their friendship. Comic misadventures on wheels are punctuated by bickering, boozing and quirky encounters with invariably colourful customers.

The trouble is, it's not really all that funny. Larry is a lazy bully whose waggishness eventually wears thin, while the helpless Bimbo makes little impact. The plight of these two and the use of the van as the symbol to Bimbo of his pain, just don't come across with the oomph or tenderness aroused for the aspiring soul band and the sassy, pregnant teen.