Irish Wish (2024, dir. Janeen Damian)

by | Mar 15, 2024

Certificate: 12A

Running Time: 93 mins

UK Distributor: Netflix

UK Release Date: 15 March 2024

WHO’S IN IRISH WISH?

Lindsay Lohan, Ed Speleers, Alexander Vlahos, Ayesha Curry, Elizabeth Tan, Jane Seymour, Jacinta Mulcahy, Matty McCabe, Dakota Lohan, Dawn Bradfield

WHO’S BEHIND THE CAMERA?

Janeen Damian (director), Kirsten Hansen (writer), Michael Damian and Brad Krevoy (producers), Nathan Lanier (composer), Graham Robbins (cinematographer), Scott Hill (editor)

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

During a wedding in Ireland, a bridesmaid (Lohan) makes a wish that transforms everything…

WHAT ARE MY THOUGHTS ON IRISH WISH?

As soon as you see the logo for Motion Picture Corporation of America – the production company behind many cookie-cutter direct-to-TV romances over the years, from A Christmas Prince to all three Princess Switch movies – you should know exactly what kind of movie that Irish Wish is going to be. And sure enough, it is just as fluffy, superficial, and utterly ridiculous as anything else made by MPCA in recent times, including their 2022 offering Falling for Christmas, the film in which actual Santa Claus intentionally causes an avalanche to happen so that Lindsay Lohan’s spoiled heiress can get amnesia and end up with the handsome widower who owns the most luxurious getaway cabin you’ve ever seen (and yes, that is the plot of the movie).

Lohan, incidentally, saw a nice career upheaval from that film, which was made through her new creative partnership with Netflix, and after decades of being hounded in the press and suffering from all sorts of psychological ailments, it’s nice to see her seemingly back on her feet, even if it is as MPCA’s new go-to headlining star. She’s now back at it again with Irish Wish, which I want to stress again is exactly the kind of movie you think it’s going to be, and there’s nothing wrong with that so long as the film itself is entertaining, intentional or otherwise – and it kind of is, albeit with an emphasis on the “otherwise”.

In the film, directed by Janeen Damian and written by Kirsten Hansen, Lohan is Madeline, a New York book editor who is hopelessly in love with her client, super-famous Irish author Paul Kennedy (Alexander Vlahos). However, she is left heartbroken when, instead of reciprocating her feelings for him, he ends up falling for her friend Emma (Elizabeth Tan), and before you know it they’re due to get married at Paul’s wealthy family estate in Ireland, with Madeline serving as a bridesmaid. Upon a visit to one of the country’s many luscious nature spots, Madeline stumbles across a fabled wishing seat, and is goaded into making a wish on it by a sprightly and magical figure we later learn to be none other than Saint Brigid herself (Dawn Bradfield). Madeline’s wish is, of course, to be marrying Paul instead, and sure enough she suddenly wakes up to find that she is now the bride-to-be. At first, she’s ecstatic that her wish has come true, but shortly after meeting snarky British photographer James (Ed Speleers), it seems that she may have come across her true love after all.

Any legitimate criticisms one can have about a film like Irish Wish are near word-for-word the same ones about any other MPCA/Netflix romance film; the plot’s as predictable as pancake mixture, the characters are surface-level at best, and in keeping with its brash Americanisation of a foreign country, everything is colourful and friendly while almost everyone speaks in inexplicably perfect English accents. The biggest laughs it gets are always the unintentional ones, including right at the beginning when the film drops a dictionary definition of the word “wish” onto the screen, both in writing and voiceover narration (the only note I wrote down during this film was at that moment, and it simply says, “THANKS”).

That isn’t even mentioning the absolute somersaults of contrivance that occur throughout, most of which happen for no real reason. This includes scenes where the magical Saint Brigid begins screwing with Lohan’s Iowa-based mother, who’s Jane Seymour, by changing her alarm clock to make her miss the flight to Ireland, and then orchestrating a fall that puts her in hospital. I understand that this supposedly mischievous spirit wants to nudge Lohan in the right direction, but why put her mother through such an ordeal, to where she is put in serious physical danger and forced to miss her own daughter’s wedding, in order for the main character to learn a lesson? That not only seems dumb, even for MPCA, but strangely cruel for a supporting character who otherwise doesn’t deserve to have such woeful stuff happen to her.

The fact is, when you break it down, Irish Wish is not a very good movie. But then, none of these movies are very good; to an extent, they know exactly that they are disposable and light-hearted to an absolute fault, and they wear such an identity proudly all across their artificial surfaces. They rely solely on the charm and chemistry of its lead actors (which, in this case, Lohan and Speleers individually and collectively deliver in spades), the rather beautiful locations that could also serve as a tourism ad for the foreign country in question, and the fairy-tale approach to romance that clearly is enough for any viewer looking for a decent comfort film. All these MPCA films, as mindless and silly as they can be, are undeniably fluffy and unpretentious, and Irish Wish is no different to, say, The Knight Before Christmas in how it just goes with its formula without a care in the world that it’s by no means high art.

Against my better judgement, and with full knowledge that what I’m watching is utter fluff, I have a deep respect for films like Irish Wish, and I hope they keep making more of these utter guilty pleasures, preferably with Lindsay Lohan in the lead role.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Irish Wish is as ridiculous and formulaic as every single other MPCA/Netflix romance, but charming leads, beautiful landscapes and unpretentious pride in what kind of movie it is earns this mindless offering a decent amount of respect.

Three out of five stars

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