April 20, 2024 8:47 am

Irish Wish
Irish Wish

Irish Wish

Two years ago Lindsay Lohan had her first starring role in almost a decade in the Netflix Holiday film “Falling for Christmas”, which she elevated with her innumerable charms. Re-teaming with director Janeen Damian, Lohan has returned to that same kind of screwball romantic comedy formula for “Irish Wish,” this time with a bit of fantasy and the luck of the Irish added to the mix. 

Lohan plays Maddie Kelly, a book editor who harbors a big secret: she’s in love with her author, bestselling romance author Paul Kennedy (Alexander Vlahos), whose Irish charm masks his insipid personality. She’s only told her mother, Rosemary (Jane Seymour), a high school principal in Des Moines, Iowa. Maddie is set to tell him – and her best friends – how she feels on the night of the book’s big splashy premiere when her best friend Emma (Elizabeth Tan) and Paul meet-cute over a stray eyelash. Their chemistry is instant, and before we know it three months have passed by and the whole crew have been whisked to Ireland for a lavish wedding at Paul’s country estate. 

At the airport Maddie has her own meet-cute when she mistakes the suitcase belonging to a roguish English photographer named James (Ed Speleers) for her own. After clearing up the confusion, the two share a bus ride from the airport into the country, where they share some more barbs, leaving thoroughly disliking each other. While on a walk after settling into the estate, Maddie finds herself on a stone wishing chair where an impish Saint Brigid (Dawn Bradfield) goads her into making a wish. “I wish I were marrying Paul Kennedy” she says with gusto, just as a gust of wind swirls fairytale pink blossoms around her and sucks her into the whirlwind of fate. 

Getting what you wished for is often more of a curse than a blessing, and although she wakes up a bride, it’s clear very early on that she and Paul are ill-suited for each other. The more time they spend together, the more his boorishness reveals itself. As doubts creep in, Maddie spends time with the passionate and intellectual James, who has been roped into becoming the wedding photographer for her impending nuptials. It’s only after Maddie realizes her wish has made everyone’s life worse – and that she may be in love with James – that a priest informs her that Saint Brigid, taking a bit of a cue from Saint Mick and Saint Keith, doesn’t always give you what you want, but might just give you what you need. 

While the structure and plotting doesn’t innovate on the genre much at all, Lohan’s mere presence makes the film work. She is an undeniable star and has always succeeded as a screwball comedienne, even when the material isn’t the greatest (I’m looking at you, “Just My Luck”). Damian often films her in medium close-ups bathed in a golden light that brings out her beauty naturally without calling too much attention to it. Her chemistry with Speleers is palpable, allowing their patter to sizzle and infuses their romantic moments, like a secretive dart game in a faraway pub, with some actual heat. In terms of the physical comedy, her pratfalls are funny and well-timed, though occasionally the editing between the star and her stunt person isn’t as seamless as it could be. 

And, of course, the Irish countryside is gorgeous. From the sparkling waters of Lough Tay to the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher, viewers are transported to a verdant, mystical land where mischievous fairies may well still exist and the power of true love can still prevail. The Irish-ness of it all is augmented by a sometimes cheesy, but mostly charming score by Nathan Lanier that riffs on variations of prototypical Celtic music. 

Where the film falters is in its supporting cast. Vlahos is fantastic as the vapid Paul; his inflection often reminded me of “Liberty Biberty” car insurance commercials, and I mean that in the best sense. However, Seymour is mostly wasted in the mother character. Not only does she never once share a scene with Lohan that isn’t over FaceTime, her humor is just too broad and doesn’t mesh well with the tone of the film. Jacinta Mulcahy doesn’t fare much better as Paul’s mother Olivia, who may as well be a walking stereotype of privilege. 

Tan as Emma is given a few moments that genuinely moved me in the alternate universe where the man she loves is marrying someone else, but their romance in either universe is not as fleshed out as it should be given the emotional stakes. A third friend, Heather, is played by celebrity chef Ayesha Curry, who hasn’t yet mastered the art of saying a line and acting at the same time as well as she has the art of cooking. 

Despite its minor flaws, “Irish Wish” is as pleasantly diverting as the kind of paperback romance novel Maddie edits for Paul, and just as forgettable. I would love to see Lohan’s star shine in a bigger budget rom-com, a la “Anyone But You,” but after all the unfair media scrutiny she received for all those years, if she’s finally found some creative freedom and safety working with Damian, and we get one of these small budget Netflix romps once every few years, that’s a win in my book.

Two years ago Lindsay Lohan had her first starring role in almost a decade in the Netflix Holiday film “Falling for Christmas”, which she elevated with her innumerable charms. Re-teaming with director Janeen Damian, Lohan has returned to that same kind of screwball romantic comedy formula for “Irish Wish,” this time with a bit of fantasy and the luck of the Irish added to the mix.  Lohan plays Maddie Kelly, a book editor who harbors a big secret: she’s in love with her author, bestselling romance author Paul Kennedy (Alexander Vlahos), whose Irish charm masks his insipid personality. She’s only told her mother, Rosemary (Jane Seymour), a high school principal in Des Moines, Iowa. Maddie is set to tell him – and her best friends – how she feels on the night of the book’s big splashy premiere when her best friend Emma (Elizabeth Tan) and Paul meet-cute over a stray eyelash. Their chemistry is instant, and before we know it three months have passed by and the whole crew have been whisked to Ireland for a lavish wedding at Paul’s country estate.  At the airport Maddie has her own meet-cute when she mistakes the suitcase belonging to a roguish English photographer named James (Ed Speleers) for her own. After clearing up the confusion, the two share a bus ride from the airport into the country, where they share some more barbs, leaving thoroughly disliking each other. While on a walk after settling into the estate, Maddie finds herself on a stone wishing chair where an impish Saint Brigid (Dawn Bradfield) goads her into making a wish. “I wish I were marrying Paul Kennedy” she says with gusto, just as a gust of wind swirls fairytale pink blossoms around her and sucks her into the whirlwind of fate.  Getting what you wished for is often more of a curse than a blessing, and although she wakes up a bride, it’s clear very early on that she and Paul are ill-suited for each other. The more time they spend together, the more his boorishness reveals itself. As doubts creep in, Maddie spends time with the passionate and intellectual James, who has been roped into becoming the wedding photographer for her impending nuptials. It’s only after Maddie realizes her wish has made everyone’s life worse – and that she may be in love with James – that a priest informs her that Saint Brigid, taking a bit of a cue from Saint Mick and Saint Keith, doesn’t always give you what you want, but might just give you what you need.  While the structure and plotting doesn’t innovate on the genre much at all, Lohan’s mere presence makes the film work. She is an undeniable star and has always succeeded as a screwball comedienne, even when the material isn’t the greatest (I’m looking at you, “Just My Luck”). Damian often films her in medium close-ups bathed in a golden light that brings out her beauty naturally without calling too much attention to it. Her chemistry with Speleers is palpable, allowing their patter to sizzle and infuses their romantic moments, like a secretive dart game in a faraway pub, with some actual heat. In terms of the physical comedy, her pratfalls are funny and well-timed, though occasionally the editing between the star and her stunt person isn’t as seamless as it could be.  And, of course, the Irish countryside is gorgeous. From the sparkling waters of Lough Tay to the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher, viewers are transported to a verdant, mystical land where mischievous fairies may well still exist and the power of true love can still prevail. The Irish-ness of it all is augmented by a sometimes cheesy, but mostly charming score by Nathan Lanier that riffs on variations of prototypical Celtic music.  Where the film falters is in its supporting cast. Vlahos is fantastic as the vapid Paul; his inflection often reminded me of “Liberty Biberty” car insurance commercials, and I mean that in the best sense. However, Seymour is mostly wasted in the mother character. Not only does she never once share a scene with Lohan that isn’t over FaceTime, her humor is just too broad and doesn’t mesh well with the tone of the film. Jacinta Mulcahy doesn’t fare much better as Paul’s mother Olivia, who may as well be a walking stereotype of privilege.  Tan as Emma is given a few moments that genuinely moved me in the alternate universe where the man she loves is marrying someone else, but their romance in either universe is not as fleshed out as it should be given the emotional stakes. A third friend, Heather, is played by celebrity chef Ayesha Curry, who hasn’t yet mastered the art of saying a line and acting at the same time as well as she has the art of cooking.  Despite its minor flaws, “Irish Wish” is as pleasantly diverting as the kind of paperback romance novel Maddie edits for Paul, and just as forgettable. I would love to see Lohan’s star shine in a bigger budget rom-com, a la “Anyone But You,” but after all the unfair media scrutiny she received for all those years, if she’s finally found some creative freedom and safety working with Damian, and we get one of these small budget Netflix romps once every few years, that’s a win in my book. Read More