Directed by: Mark Jones
Starring: Warwick Davis, Jennifer Aniston, Ken Olandt, Mark Holton, Robert Hy Gorman, Shay Duffin, John Sanderford
1/2 (out of 4)
Mr. Daniel O’Grady returns home via limousine to tell his dumbfounded wife that they are rich, because he stole a leprechaun’s gold. His wife admonishes him for being a drunken fool and then offers to make him tea, even after he produces a whole bag of gold coins. Her nonchalant attitude at suddenly going from poor to rich is a headscratcher – does this happen a lot in her household? Tracked down by the pissed off leprechaun (“The wee people have their ways!”), wife takes a tumble down the stairs and O’Grady has a stroke, but not before sealing the leprechaun in a crate and putting a four leaf clover on top of it, trapping him like a cross traps a vampire, I suppose.
Ten years later, spoiled LA brat Tory (a young and hot Jennifer Aniston) and her dad inherit the O’Grady house (revealed to be in North Dakota, because that what we all think of when we consider Irish mythology!) where they meet up with local goofs Nathan the hunk (Ken Olandt, looking like Kevin Bacon), Ozzie the idiot (Mark Holton), and Alex the precocious rugrat (Robert Gorman). So, we are about 18 minutes in and I already hate every main character – it doesn’t help matters that none of the “actors” involved know how to act. But, of course, Jennifer Aniston isn’t really popular because she’s a good actress, she’s famous for other reasons, like having a nice body, and being Angelina’s mortal enemy. (I am amused that a re-release of Leprechaun on DVD has Aniston’s mug right in the foreground – at least Warwick Davis still takes top billing). Anyway, Ozzie accidentally frees the crazed little Irish faerie monster (played well by Davis), who then terrorizes everybody in attempting to recover his gold collection. Tory’s dad J.D (John Sanderford) is lucky enough to drop out of the proceedings early (the leprechaun bites his hand leaving a huge gash, of course daddy mistakenly thinks it was a cat). After taking dad to the hospital, Ozzie and Alex give a coin to a collector to study – Leppy tracks him down and does a pogo stick dance on his chest while chanting silly rhymes. And thus begins the little green bastard’s trail of mayhem, which involves a lot of shamrocks and shenanigans.
For much of Leprechaun‘s running time, things are deadly dull, the dialogue is stilted, and the humor is sophomoric. There is nothing particularly witty about the leprechaun, even though he tries to get off one-liners in the tradition of Freddy Krueger. In fact, the whole movie could have been a dark, creepy exercise if done right; instead, it’s a B-movie horror comedy all the way. The best bits involve Leppy’s peculiar character trait that I might call an obsessive-compulsive disorder involving the need to clean every pair of shoes that cross his path. At one point, our heroes use this bit of information to get away by throwing all their shoes at him. Another scene has the leprechaun digging into a box of a Lucky Charms cereal-knockoff and hating it.
The deaths themselves are nothing special, but things do pick up towards the end once the green guy’s attack makes Aniston start using the F-word (aw, Rachel, no!). The problem is that Mark Jones’ direction isn’t particularly skillful. There is no real tension in any of the scenes – the best example of what I mean comes in the form of a Nightmare on Elm Street homage where Leppy’s little hand comes out of the telephone receiver. While amusing, it also made me realize how much Aniston is no Heather Langenkamp, Davis is no Robert Englund, and Jones is no Wes Craven.
So, after being held up in the house for awhile (during which I had flashbacks to Critters), Tory goes to the old folks home to learn from O’Grady that only a four leaf clover can stop the leprechaun. I don’t have the “Leprechaun Rules Handbook” so I’m going to have to go with it. We also find out that Ozzie accidentally swallowed a gold coin, but nobody thinks to try to get him to, you know, “evacuate” it. The ugly green goblin is eventually defeated by Alex skillfully using a slingshot, so let’s all feign surprise at the 5 sequels that followed (one of which was in space, two others in the hood!) So, is Leprechaun a parable about the evils of greed? Not really. It’s more like: don’t fuck with a leprechaun’s gold. Especially in this day and age – have you seen spot gold prices lately? Don’t be like Leppy – get yourself a safe deposit box, sonny!
- Bill Gordon