WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
First, the Recap:
Family. Heritage. Traditions. Expectations. These are terms that can bring about a new richness in our lives. When we comprehend who we are, where we herald from, and respect the cultural legacies we inherit, it can be a blessing. Tom Murphy (Sean Lackey) is not really one of those people. Born and bred in a proud, though decidedly stuck-in-the-past, fourth generation Irish-American family in Cleveland, Ohio, Tom’s sense of appreciating his roots as such has fallen rather far to the wayside. However, when his best friend Marty (Allen Kellogg) announces his upcoming marriage to an Irish girl, with the wedding taking place in Ireland, the pressure is on from Tom’s parents, Peter & Annie (Fred Willard and Maryann Nagel), for him to embrace his origins and find an Irish girl himself.
Upon arriving to the Emerald Isle, though, Tom’s entire “Lucky Charms”-style notion about Irish culture gets turned on its head, thanks to encounters with locals and ultimately a relative of the family, Fintan McGuire (Colm Meaney), who quickly shakes those ideas up and presents the realities of a modern Ireland. Making matters even more complicated is Marty’s fiancé’s maid of honor, Vanessa (Niki Spiridakos), a strong Greek girl with whom Tom already has a jaded start with. But, as he ends up spending more time with her and begins to realize his feelings, everything comes into question as Tom has to face the concept of battling his family’s culturally-based expectancy and hopes for him while coming to realize the value of following the heart into true love.
Next, my Mind:
Writer/director/producer/lead actor Sean Lackey’s feature-length comedy actually presents itself as somewhat of an enigma for this reviewer, which shouldn’t be construed as a negative sentiment. While there was a copious amount of general goofiness added to the intended satirical humor, what actually surprises a bit was an unexpected genuineness and infusion of pathos built into what should have been, honestly, your average run-of-the-mill film. Instead, if embracing the heart behind it, a viewer might actually find themselves somewhat relating to Tom’s journey, even if only from the sense that love, plus a re-arranged perception about others and other places we initially judge then come to new understanding about, is worth pursuing.
Lackey’s Tom is quite entertaining from the onset, playing him as being so “proud” of who he is as a Irish-American, yet not at all having any clue about what that really means, or should mean, to him, much less how to deeply embrace it. Comedy staple Willard is his usual, hilariously over-the-top self as Tom’s Dad, Peter, a man who more than tries to take up the mantle of the family roots, even if so much of it is not quite up to modern times. Spiridakos is wonderful as Vanessa, providing a lead female character who’s both strong but also willing to open up and let the right people in, and Spiridakos plays this so perfectly in Vanessa’s love/hate relationship process with Tom. Solid supporting turns from Kevin Farley, Meaney, Kellogg, Spencer Jay Kim, Nicole Forester, Nagel, and others add great comic moments.
Beautifully filmed on location in Cleveland, OH as well as Dublin and County Clare, Ireland, “The Yank” is, in total, one of those films that for all its labeling, really comes across as more of a simple, fun, character-based indie drama with wit–goofy, satirical, or otherwise–that ends up illustrating more about who we are, the way we look at things, and the value of being willing to learn and be changed.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!