Both the forced, manic tone and the broad acting of Belgium’s Waiting For Dublin recall a Disney live-action movie from the late ’60s or early ’70s: The Apple Dumpling Gang, maybe, or The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. Which makes the storyline all the more bizarre. Half of it centers on a smug, charisma-free American pilot (Andrew Keegan) trying to scam his way into ace credentials during World War II; the other half focuses on his efforts to get into the skirt of a marriage-minded Irish girl (Jade Yourell). The story is too off-color for kids, too outright stupid for remotely discerning adults. It’s one of those romantic comedies that’s neither romantic nor comedic.
The action begins at New Year’s Eve, as Keegan drunkenly bets Al Capone’s nephew $10,000 that Keegan will come home as a decorated flying ace. But as the war nears its end, Keegan and his British wingman make an emergency landing in a rural Ireland town full of wacky, good-hearted stereotypes; since Ireland is a neutral nation, their commanders order them to stay put until a Dublin cop can take them into custody for the duration of the war. Fortunately, the cop is also a bumbling stereotype, whose drunken, easygoing sloth gives Keegan several days to talk downed German pilot Jenne Decleir into taking his plane back up and letting Keegan shoot it down, as his fifth “kill.” Meanwhile, Keegan presses Yourell for sex with clunky, irritating lines like “Maggie my love, life is short. It’s high time that we get it on.” She, however, demands a wedding before the bedding.
One of Waiting For Dublin’s many grating problems is that viewers have no stake in either of these contests: Keegan’s would-be ace is a cocky, self-absorbed ass, and Yourell is a mercenary scamp focused only on the American citizenship that would come with a wedding ring. And since their one-note characters are so clumsily portrayed, there’s no reason to care about them as people. Waiting For Dublin seems to be aiming at the homey charms of Waking Ned Devine or The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain, but its shrill amateurishness makes it feel homemade in all the wrong ways.