Round Ireland with a Fridge…Really!

The number one reason I admit I wanted to watch this movie would be for verification of its name.
I’ll admit I was confused…”Is the name the actual movie, like ‘Snakes on a Plane’ or ‘Anaconda’ or is it metaphorical like ‘Before the Devil Knows You are Dead’ or ‘Spirited Away’”
Of course 20 minutes in the movie you realize that the answer is the latter!!

RIWAF is a less heard of movie and was released around two years ago.
This is a comedy road trip based on Tony Hawke’s bestselling book in which Tony ends up accepting a drunken bet with his best friend to hitchhike around Ireland with a fridge as his companion. Tony is a stand-up comic and is having a tough time keeping up with his shows and is unable to find any real creativity in himself. He bombs on a show and much like the most of us goes to his closest friend for solace. Tony’s friend ends up challenging him to…yup you guessed it…travel around Ireland with a fridge. Under the influence of alcohol Tony ends up accepting the drunken bet of a £100 and sets of with his unusual travelling companion.

The film recreates Tony’s actual 1997 journey around Ireland as he re-evaluated his life and career, found romance in the form of Roisin (the beautiful Valarie O Connor, who does a decent job as the love interest in the movie), met a wide range of bizarre characters such as the philosophical toiletries salesman (Sean Hughes), a radio DJ Dayle (Ed Byrne) who makes it his personal mandate to update listeners of the show about Tony’s current whereabouts, made many new friends and discovered that people are perfectly prepared to treat a small white domestic appliance as though it was a fully fledged person with a personality in its own right. Tony due to his weird trip becomes a sort of semi-famous celebrity where people all over recognize him with his mini fridge. Tony realizes that people are more than willing to accept the fridge and due to this the fridge is taken surfing, christened, blessed by nuns, accompanied by a bagpiper, taken to a bachelor festival and also becomes the hero of a national radio station. The fridge pretty much gains an identity of its own and to Tony’s bewilderment people believe it represents a lot more than just a domestic appliance.

Of course all this is just something that holds the movie together for basic viewing for the premise lies underneath, of a disillusioned personality whose career has stalled and who refuses to believe it. Tony in the movie seems to be searching for the answers to questions he doesn’t know and in a search for both he tries to rediscover himself and his drive. The fridge acts as a companion and a persona for his own self whom he is now able to “confront” and “talk to”. The movie is heartwarming in parts and at parts just downright dumb. It’s whimsically funny, rather than hilarious and much of the laughs are expected to come from the visual ridiculousness of the situations rather than any sharp dialogue.

The movie is based on the book and the most exciting part of it is the fact that it is based on a true story of Tony Hawke himself. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading the book so I shall refrain from comparing it and talk about just the movie per se.

Tony Hawk does a brilliant job (but then it is HIS life story), the rest of the cast are mostly riff-raff and something where I feel they could put more effort with and might have been done more justice with in the book. The romantic interest, the radio jockey, the lads from the pub, the one night stand, the truck driver, the hotel lady and a horde of other people in the movie are those who I feel would have made the book a success and they all seem to be poorly defined in the movie. There seems to be a distinct lack of character development in the premise of the movie and I feel that there was more pressure to keep the movie short rather than story based.

Having said that, the major selling proposition of the movie was its ability to keep the humor subtle and light and the story sort of flows on. There are numerous ways the movie could be made much better but since it wasn’t I guess it is something most of us can watch just once to check the scenic shots of Ireland, the concept in its entirety and probably force us to read the book. Overall though, an enjoyable and well made film which, whilst it may not make you laugh out loud, is an enjoyable watch. 🙂

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