There are certain artists that audiences root for. From actors to musicians, they all have one thing in common: viewers desperately want to see them succeed. This year has proven fruitful so far. For Swifties, Taylor Swift took home Album of the Year at the Grammys for folklore. For royal family fanatics, Josh O’Connor won his first Golden Globe for his truly loathsome, spot-on portrayal of Prince Charles in Netflix’s The Crown. There have, however, been some let downs—cut to Domhnall and Brian Gleeson’s Frank of Ireland.
Perhaps best known for his roles as Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter film franchise and Tim Lake in the standout rom-com About Time, Domhnall is essentially Irish perfection. A talented redhead with a melodic Dubliner accent who has acting quite literally in his blood—his father is legendary actor Brendan Gleeson—Domhnall’s latest release seemed more than promising. At first the brothers seemed primed to create a stellar comedy, but the series’ humor ultimately falls flat at every comedic jape.
Set in Dublin, Frank of Ireland follows 32-year-old struggling musician Frank Marron (Brian) and his lovingly nicknamed best friend, Doofus (Domhnall), as they try to find some semblance of contentment in Frank’s painfully bleak life. The premise is unoriginal yet solid, the makings of any good comedy show, but it just doesn’t work.
Frank of Ireland desperately wants to be funny, but despite the wordplay or repetitive slapstick gags that follow every other word, it’s just not. Domhnall, as per usual, does as well as he possibly can given the script’s material, but he is limited by the mediocre writing. The younger Gleeson’s acting chops also can’t salvage his character who, even if the writing was good, is written as genuinely unlikeable. But unfortunately, the blame falls solely on the Gleeson brothers, as they wrote their own parts.
Instead of adding humor, the series’ nonsensical plot is just confusing. The first episode starts with Frank trying to learn mixed martial arts (MMA) to win back his ex-girlfriend, Aine (Normal People’s Sarah Greene). But somehow by the episode’s end, Domhnall’s character finds himself performing music at Aine’s grandmother’s funeral—his first “gig” in months. This is the sort of logic that Frank of Ireland follows: none. The episode relies on repetitive jokes that get tired fast. For example, Frank repeatedly confuses MMA with the drug MDMA. While Frank’s confusion may have elicited a laugh or two the first time around, the joke quickly got old.
Perhaps the only redeeming character in Frank of Ireland is Frank’s mother Mary (Pom Boyd). A crass and wholly unlikeable character, Mary is somehow endearing. In contrast to Frank’s childish behavior, Mary pulls no punches when dealing with her son. She openly points out his faults—most often that he still lives in her house—calls him names, and has a far superior sense of humor to him. But perhaps her best quality is her blithe disregard for the way she is “supposed” to act. Similar to Frank, she doesn’t care about who she hurts or offends with her behavior, but the way that she goes about this is tinged with a sort of badass streak.
Ultimately, Frank of Ireland just isn’t great. It’s not very funny, the plot is overdone and illogical, and even Domhnall can’t save it. Perhaps his next project will be redeeming, but for now, Frank of Ireland is a flop.
Photo Courtesy of Merman