Plot: Kyle (Ryan Merriman) is a young man who seems to have incredible luck, as he never misses a shot in basketball, always guesses right on tests, and the odds just seem to be ever in his favor. He has a lucky coin that wears around his neck, but of course, it is just a good luck charm and not a mystical bauble, right? As his school prepares for a cultural awareness event, students are tasked to explore their own heritages and share some of the culture with the other students. But Kyle’s parents seem to change the topic whenever he asks about his family’s cultural past, telling him to just celebrate being an American and leave it at that. But when he notices the same symbol from his lucky coin in an advertisement for an Irish festival, he knows he has to check it out. He has an odd encounter at the festival and soon after, he notices that his luck seems to taken a dive, his parents are different, and his own body is going through some changes. But what happened at the Irish festival and even if he can uncover the truth, can he ever get his luck back?
Entertainment Value: Although this Disney Channel production touches on how cultural heritage is important, it does so in minor ways and overall, takes a broad, silly approach. So while Irish culture is at the core of The Luck of the Irish, the movie isn’t exactly sensitive in how it handles the cultural aspects, focusing on accents, folk dance, and of course, leprechauns. So while some insights might be picked up, the movie never invests much time in genuine cultural elements and just tries to play off stereotypes for some quick laughs and outlandish situations. The humor is aimed at younger audiences and is frequent, with little time between jokes or sight gags, but not much of the material earns big laughs. So while the movie’s sense of humor does land at times, it doesn’t hit consistently and even when it does, it is mild. The pace is good for the most part, though it does drag a little in the middle, then the finale seems to be more drawn out than it should have been. This would have worked better as a lean, brisk picture, but since it was made for television, perhaps certain time requirements were involved. Not bad, but not one of Disney Channel’s better movies.
The cast here is competent, though some embrace the silly nature of the material more than others. This results in some restrained, more sincere efforts from some actors, while others go way over the top, so an odd mix and to be honest, at least the dialed up efforts are fun to watch. Ryan Merriman isn’t bad in the lead, but he has little presence and can’t seem to make the humor work. The writers seemed to have noticed that, as he is the straight man in most scenes, but even his reactions to the goofier cast members leave a lot to be desired. The most enjoyable performances are more energetic, though wildly over the top. Henry Gibson is outrageous here, never even coming close to subtle and leaning heavily on the Irish archetype, while Timothy Omundon is beyond ludicrous as our unhinged villain. These two turn in efforts that might be bad in some films, but are a much needed boost of energy here and while not always effective, at least their work can hold attention at times. In the end, The Luck of the Irish is good for a few laughs, but not enough to earn much of a recommendation.