There are some films that win Oscars and are included on every “100 Best Movies” list God created. They go down in the annals of time as masterpieces that inspire their audiences and imprint themselves in our collective memories. They prove that cinema is truly a great artform.
Then there is the other end of the spectrum – the films that are so poorly written, acted, or executed that they are humorous. These are films during which audiences frequently murmur “WTF,” but not in an artsy Tree of Life kind of a way. Though we appreciate the failure or ridiculousness of these movies, we watch them over and over and hold them close to our hearts. They are so bad – they’re good.[
In the spirit of Saint Patrick’s Day and celebrating everything Irish, this month’s edition of So Bad It’s Good will focus on the 1999 TV movie The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns. First, let me say that I love this movie; I watch it every March 17th. I first saw it when I was nine and will always watch it through the eyes of a 9-year-old.
The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns stars Randy Quaid (the wrong Quaid 98% of the time) as Jack Woods, a New York big shot who comes to Ireland to scout properties for a luxury golf resort. The small cottage that he rents comes with a great view, an old bottle of potato whiskey, and a live-in leprechauns – Seamus, the leader of the Kerry Leprechauns, and his family. His son Mickey enjoys riding sheep with his friends, drinking at the local little-people bar, and getting in fights with Trooping Fairies. Trooping Fairies are blue-eyed, gossamer-winged, fairies that live in a castle in the sky and nurse a deep hatred for leprechauns, who share the emotion. One might even say they have an ancient grudge. One fated evening, Mickey and his buds decide that their daily bit of mischief will be to crash the Fairy Mid-Summer Ball. While there, Mickey is swept off his feet by Princess Jessica, who is coincidentally the daughter of his enemy. From there, the two pursue their love and run off together while their families, each blaming the other, battle it out. Friends and family members are caught in the middle, until Mickey and Jessica can no longer handle the pressure and take drastic measures. So, basically, it’s a 100% original story.
Oh! And Randy Quaid falls in love with the girl next door and has to deal with the ups and down of their week-long relationship. But, seriously – this was a mini series; if we’re watching it in one sitting, we don’t have time for silly humans.
I know that Leprechauns seems like a loser already, but unlike many a SBIG movie, it’s not the acting that tanks it. Several of the actors went onto lead successful careers (keep an eye out for Kevin McKidd, aka Dr. Hunt on Grey’s Anatomy, who plays a leprechaun a few sips short of a full pint). This film also boasts some good Irish music and badass Riverdancing. The SBIG factor in this film is the shear number of Umm, What? moments.
For instance, when Mickey and his friends are strolling through the fields, the weather is predicted for them by a headless horseman who throws his head into the air to get a better view. Later, the Trooping Fairies best insult, the doozy that gets the leprechaun riled up like calling a McFly a chicken, is to comment on his “powerful set of eyebrows.” Or perhaps when Mickey’s Uncle Aloysius takes the place of Shakespeare’s friar to the young couple. Uncle Al, however, is a butter spirit, a creepy toadish little Englishman who lives in the dankest swamps and cares only about butter.
The aforementioned parts of the film combined with bad special effects and the barrage of corny lines make Leprachauns teeter on the edge. But what really pushes it over, from mehh to laughable delight, is the star power of Whoopi Goldberg. Whoopi plays the Grand Banshee, a powerful spirit who governs the entire fairy world, which includes both trooping fairies and leprechauns. She wears a velvet cape and feathers in her hair or, in one scene, an avocado facemask. She appears to the fairies when they are in conflict, warns of the repercussions of letting their feud rage on, and then transforms into a crow. Her lair is located in a mountain, staffed by dwarves/The Penguins-from-Batman and guarded by a man made of fire. Whoopi is without a doubt the reason Leprechauns made my list; she makes the movie
So, now that you know this gem exists, you’d better start looking for a copy, because I’m not giving mine up so close to St Pat’s! Good Luck; may Irish eyes be smiling on you…
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