'Leprechaun' sinks so low it's enough to get your Irish up

January 09, 1993|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Film Critic

Truly rotten movies can be somehow liberating. One is soon freed of the responsibility of paying attention to the story or the actors and one's mind and attention may wander unfettered through the information on the screen, looking for oddities.

In "Leprechaun," for example, I soon noticed that everybody in the movie except for the title character and a very boring hero who looks like John Davidson before puberty, has a similarly shaped head. They all look like slightly melted M&Ms, with tiny little foreheads and beady little eyes distending almost triangularly into a wider, flabbier lower face. We are definitely in the land of the sloppy ovals. I include the girl, the kid, the comic lead and the father. It wasn't a movie, it was a Rush Limbaugh look-alike contest!

That delight aside, "Leprechaun" is otherwise bereft of pleasures, unless your idea of fun is broad enough to include images of a little person in bad makeup ripping the faces off cops and yammering all the while in an imitation of an Irish brogue that consists entirely of pronouncing the word "my" as "me," as in "I want me gold."

The movie is nothing more than our old friend, the chopper melodrama, with a group of handsome teens and near-teens isolated in a lonely house while a nasty chap goes around trying to bag them. Warwick Davis, who was heroic and affecting in Ron Howard's "Willow," plays the title figure in a rubber face so thick anyone could lurk behind it, from Billy Barty to Wilt Chamberlain.

I won't trouble you with plot machinations, as the producers haven't troubled with them either. It's just whack, whack, whack. And needless to say the producers haven't bothered to master the rudiments of Celtic mythology from which springs the legend of the leprechaun and they don't get any buzz out of their role reversal: turning one of the world's most beloved figures of whimsy into a homicidal maniac. But what's most appalling about the film is that its broad violence -- face rippings, eye-popping, shotgunnings -- are played for laughs.

I want me 95 minutes back!

'LEPRECHAUN'

Starring Warwick Davis.

Directed by Mark Jones.

Released by Trimark.

Rated R.

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