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Out of Luck Review

on Mon, 06/27/2011 - 00:00

If you will excuse the pun, leprechauns have been getting the short end of the stick in recent years. While True Blood has helped transform vampires into brooding sexual creatures of the night, leprechauns remain the ever-smiling spokesmen for kids’ cereal. While the AMC drama The Walking Dead has made zombies cool again, the impish mystical beings from Ireland have mostly been forgotten. Even Buffy Summers, who has faced off against every supernatural being known-and-unknown to man, brushes their influence and even existence aside. “There are two things I don’t believe in,” she states on the former WB/UPN series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. “Coincidence and leprechauns.”

The lack of attention and respect that leprechauns have endured in contemporary pop culture has come to an end, however, with the advent of the web series Out of Luck. In it, the Irish folklore of old is re-imagined in the form of Patrick (Patrick Newman), a traditionally green-clad leprechaun with a never-ceasing smile and the ability to grant three wishes to whoever catches him. Patrick is as mischievous as any leprechaun of myth, and possesses a “horny” side to go along with the customary attributes of his kind. When likeable loser Jake (Eric Wood), for instance, first stumbles upon him, Patrick is hiding in a tree with a pair of binoculars trained upon the window of Jake’s friend Alex (Amanda Rose). Later, Patrick promises to bring an attractive blonde woman back to Leprechaun City and show her his pot of gold.

“That’s a euphuism,” he explains in case anyone fails to understand his true intentions.

Jake inevitably “catches” Patrick when he falls from the tree in front of Alex’s apartment and is granted three wishes for his effort. Just as Major Anthony Nelson received more than he bargained for when he opened a bottle on I Dream of Jeannie, however, Jake’s world is likewise turned upside down with the introduction of a leprechaun into his life. When Jake uses one of his three wishes to have Patrick “take care” of his overdue rent, for instance, the mischievous Irish imp employs a baseball bat to intimidate the landlord as opposed to borrowing funds from his pot of gold. When Jake later transfers his third wish to Patrick, matters grow worse as a leprechaun is not allowed to grant their own wishes. Patrick thus loses his powers but makes a new deal with Jake in the aftermath—if Jake assists him with his dilemma, the leprechaun will help Jake turn his platonic friendship with Alex into a romantic one.

While the idea of a smallish Irishman eternally dressed as if it was St. Patrick’s Day seemed like an outlandish concept to Buffy Summers, in the hands of writer/director Riley Workman it comes across as a comic hybrid of fish-out-of-water narratives and reluctant buddy movies. Much of the appeal of Out of Luck involves Patrick Newman, who gives the leprechaun an element of natural and genuine charm, but in reality all of the actors in the web series give top-notch performances. Although the main plot may have the same roots as many traditional and classic sitcoms, the storyline has an original feel to it nonetheless and keeps the audience both laughing and entertained throughout its episodes.

The rise of the web series medium as legitimate creative outlet has enabled independent productions to tap into the inherent talent-pool of any city in the country. Just like The Baristas and Chad Vader were able to utilize residents of Pittsburgh and Madison, Wisconsin, in their web series efforts, Out of Luck likewise relies on its local community for both cast and crew. “Our actors are all across the board in terms of experience, but everyone is based in Utah,” actor Patrick Newman remarks. “We have our own composer who recently graduated from BYU as well, so all of the music is created in-house-even our theme song.” Newman himself is a theater student at Brigham Young University while writer/director Riley Workman studies film at nearby Utah Valley University.

According to Newman, it was Workman who developed the idea for Out of Luck and approached him to portray the leprechaun. “Riley loves stories that mix mythology with reality and so he dreamt this really fun world up,” Patrick Newman explains. “There have been some creative compromises along the way as we have had problems with casting and such, but ultimately Riley wanted to have a fun universe with enjoyable characters that are both in and way out of reality.”

A leprechaun is about as “way out of reality” as one can get, but Out of Luck transports the mystical Irish incarnation of old into a modern-day world inhabited by realistic characters facing the dramas of everyday life. Like any good sitcom, it combines the “situation” of the narrative with the “comedy” in an effective and effortless manner while adding quality performances and production values as well. None of that would mean anything, of course, if the narrative itself didn’t shine—and for Out of Luck, the storylines shine like a pot of gold.

Just don’t tell Buffy Summers.

Anthony Letizia (June 27, 2011)

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