Zonad the Great! Ireland's newest comedy hero
He came from a faraway galaxy, in search of a decent pint of Guinness. Well, actually, he came from Dublin in a figure hugging red rubber suit, but Zonad, the new genre-busting Irish-made comedy, has turned out to be the funniest film of the year, and it’s about to prove it at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York this weekend.
Directed by John Carney, 38, who directed the Oscar-winning sleeper hit "Once" two years ago, and his brother Kieran Carney, 36, Zonad stars Simon Delaney in a breakout role that could easily stand beside the best work of comedy giant John Belushi, the manic Blues Brothers star that Delaney and his brand of physical comedy most resembles.
Looking like a completely insane sequel to The Quiet Man, Zonad is part Carry-On comedy, part 1950’s sci-fi potboiler, and part hearty revenge on America for decades of sentimental Oirish fare like The Quiet Man and Darby O’Gill. It’s also the most possible fun you can have at the movies, and that’s the goal.
The influence of directors as diverse as Mel Brooks, Ed Wood, Tim Burton and John Landis can be seen all over Zonad, but it’s also completely it’s own thing -- a whacked-out rural Irish 1950s style sci-fi comedy love story.
What’s really exciting is that it’s also the first of its kind. Part of the fun of Zonad is that you have literally never seen anything quite like it from Ireland before.
When Zonad (played by Delaney) arrives in the little village of Ballymoran (looking like Britney Spears’ overweight dad) he’s instantly accepted by the friendly locals, who for whatever reason never get around to asking him difficult questions, like where’s your spaceship or how come you speak English?
Instead they excitedly welcome him to their community the way they’d welcome anyone, with a stone cold pint of Guinness.
Ballymoran, it’s fair to say, is stuck in a bizarre 1950s time warp. People talk and dress like Dwight D. Eisenhower is still president and rock and roll hasn’t been invented.
Helping to underline this back to the future theme is the film’s outrageous score. There’s something jarringly off about using a dramatic Alfred Hitchcock orchestral soundtrack in a quaint little Irish village, and the Carney brothers know it.
The film opens with Zonad passed out on the floor of the Cassidy family’s living room. When they find him they don’t throw him out. They volunteer to be his hosts in the village.
So far so unlikely. Soon Zonad is a local celebrity, milking everything he can get -- free room and board from the Cassidys, bottomless drinks at the local pub and the adoration of all the town’s teenage girls.
Everything is going great for Zonad until a fellow rehab escapee shows up as Bonad! Directors John and Kieran have concocted a lunatic story that goes down like a nice pint of Guinness. But how did it get started?
“It was a very old pub joke between myself and my brother and a few actors we know,” John Carney tells the Irish Voice.
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