Oh, dear. You know I don’t like to criticize movies, but I’m afraid there are a few things about Leprechaun that I simply cannot let pass. First and foremost: The title character, an honest-to-goodness, pot-of-gold, end-of-the-rainbow, wee Irish leprechaun, doesn’t have an Irish accent.
What is this crap? If I’m going to watch a movie about an evil leprechaun who murders people, then that leprechaun had damn well better have an Irish accent. Check my record — you’ll find that this has always been my position. I want to hear “Top o’ the mornin’!” and “Saints be praised!,” the whole nine yards, and I want to hear it with a charming Irish brogue. I understand that the actor playing the leprechaun, world-famous dwarf Warwick Davis, is from England, but that is no excuse. You can’t find an Irish accent for your murderous-leprechaun movie? Then don’t make the movie. It’s as simple as that.
Actually, having seen the movie, I’m convinced not making it would have been the better decision anyway, regardless of how Irish the title character was. Written and directed by Mark Jones, who worked for many years as a writer for TV shows like What’s New, Mr. Magoo? and The A-Team, the film tries to be scary in some scenes (and fails), then tries to be funny in others (and also fails). The only thing the movie is good at is failing. It’s the Washington Mutual of killer-leprechaun movies.
It starts with the leprechaun (who does not have a name) fondling his sack of gold and reciting a rhyme:
Try as they will, try as they might,
Who steals me gold won’t live through the night!
(He even says “me” instead of “my,” like Irish people do — but without the Irish accent! It’s ANNOYING!!)
Having thus established that anyone who steals the leprechaun’s gold won’t live through the night, the film proceeds to show many people stealing his gold and living for months, even years, thereafter. It’s like the movie is TRYING to aggravate me.
The first person to defy the leprechaun’s gold-theft zero-tolerance policy is an Irish man — with an Irish accent and everything! — named Dan O’Grady (Shay Duffin), who lives with his equally Irish wife (Pamela Mant) on a farm in North Dakota. Why an Irish couple would choose to live in North Dakota, I cannot imagine. An overwhelming nostalgia for the bleak despair of the Great Potato Famine, perhaps? At any rate, Dan has just returned from his mother’s funeral in Ireland, and while he was there he caught a leprechaun, which means the leprechaun had to give him his gold. That is the rule, as every Irish person knows. It’s guaranteed by the constitution of Ireland (which was scribbled on a pub napkin and uses the word “begorrah” three times).
But what Dan doesn’t know is that this particular leprechaun has gone rogue, and he murders people who take his gold, even when they acquired it fair and square. As mentioned, the leprechaun always gets his revenge before the night is finished! Or, you know, at some point after that. Whenever he gets to it, really. In this case, he has stowed away in Dan’s luggage, popping out long enough to kill Dan’s wife and then be recaptured by Dan, who repels the leprechaun with a four-leaf clover. In SAT terms, four-leaf clover : leprechaun :: crucifix : vampire. Dan nails the leprechaun up in a crate in the basement, puts the four-leaf clover on top of it to keep him in there, then has a stroke. So much for Dan.
Then it’s 10 years later. A rugged man named J.D. (John Sanderford) has just bought the old O’Grady place and is moving there with his daughter, Tory, who is a spoiled, materialistic Beverly Hills brat. The movie does not tell us why she has to spend the summer with her father, or why they’re moving to North Dakota, or anything else pertinent. But Tory is played by Jennifer Aniston, in her very first movie role! Jennifer Aniston was so ahead of her time that she was fulfilling the obligation of Friends cast members to appear exclusively in terrible movies even before Friends existed!
The O’Grady house is in an alarming state of disrepair, covered in cobwebs and dust and clearly unfit for occupancy. Nonetheless, J.D. plans to move in immediately, this very moment. He’s hired three guys to paint the exterior of the house — because for sure THAT’S what it needs to make it livable — and one of them, Nathan (Ken Olandt), is roughly Tory’s age, vaguely good-looking, semi-mullet-headed, and no stupider than anyone else in the film. That makes him her love interest, I guess.
Tory and Nathan are about to open the old leprechaun crate in the basement when they get interrupted — an obvious measure required by the movie to keep them from knowing the leprechaun exists for as long as possible. Instead, one of the other painters, a hulking, Of Mice and Men-ish oaf named Ozzie (Mark Holton), goes down there, opens the crate, and is harassed by the leprechaun, who demands to know where his gold is. Terrified, Ozzie runs upstairs, reports what he’s seen, and is dismissed as a big dumb idiot by everyone. This includes the third housepainter, Alex (Robert Gorman), who is Nathan’s little brother and the George to Ozzie’s Lenny. (Listen, if you haven’t read Of Mice and Men, I’m not going to explain everything to you.)
Just as everyone’s expressing their non-belief in Ozzie’s leprechaun story and telling him he’s an idiot (which, to be fair, he is), a rainbow appears over the house. No one finds this unusual, even though it hasn’t been raining. Ozzie convinces Alex to go with him to the end of the rainbow to find the leprechaun’s gold, and sure enough, the rainbow actually HAS an end that you can go to, which even a moron knows is not normally the case with rainbows. At the end of the rainbow is a rusty old pickup truck, and in this truck is: the leprechaun’s sack of gold. Somehow, Alex still refuses to believe in leprechauns. NOW who’s the idiot, huh?*
The leprechaun sort of has magical powers, sometimes, and is able to teleport and disguise his voice as a means of tricking people, except when it’s more convenient for the movie for him not to be able to do so. In those cases, he’s just a squirrelly little pest with razor-sharp teeth and a non-Irish accent. He hides under a car and scratches Tory’s leg, then hides in a hollow log and bites J.D.’s hand. The bite is severe enough for J.D. to need overnight hospitalization, which is also very convenient for the movie, as it has no use for J.D. anyway. Having brought Tory to the North Dakota hellhouse and gotten the story rolling, the character’s services are no longer required. See you at the wrap party, J.D.!
The leprechaun wants his gold back. To that end, he pursues pretty much everyone in town except for those who actually have it. Finally, Tory, Nathan, and Alex do encounter him face-to-face, though they still refuse to believe he’s a leprechaun, which is where the Irish accent would really come in handy, you know? I mean, can you blame them for not thinking he’s legit? I’m just sayin’. Nathan keeps shooting the leprechaun with a shotgun, which has no significant impact on his ability to attack them, and then, at last, they find a four-leaf clover and use it to defeat him. Oh, and Ozzie swallowed a gold coin earlier, and the leprechaun was going to cut him open to get it back, but that part is so stupid I’m not even going to mention it.
The problem with having a leprechaun for a villain is that leprechauns are small. It’s one of their most well-known characteristics. If you got into a fight with one, all you’d have to do is pick him up by one leg and throw him over a bridge or something. It’s the same reason I always had trouble with the Child’s Play movies. Something as light as a doll wouldn’t have the leverage to inflict any serious damage on anyone, and it would be easy to outrun him or incapacitate him. Basically, if you get killed by a leprechaun or a doll, you get what you deserve. That is my position, and I will not budge from it.
*Answer: Still Ozzie. But Alex is definitely stubborn.