St. Patrick’s Day can be seen in one of two ways: either it’s a glorious celebration of our nation’s connection to and history with Ireland, or it’s a terrible excuse for binge alcoholics to practice while wearing green and watching a parade. If you’re looking to drown out the bagpipes and the sounds of the Dropkick Murphys, avoid all that Irish nonsense (thanks, 30 Rock) with these five Netflix choices that will bring laughter and maybe tears in equal Irish measure. Check them out after the jump, and follow the title links to watch them right now.
On paper, In Bruges sounds like a bad Quentin Tarantino ripoff from 1996 — two Irish hitmen on the lam (Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson) hide out for a weekend in the small medieval Belgian city of Bruges — but what genius Irish playwright and debut filmmaker Martin McDonagh does with that set up is explore the very nature of life, death, and morality itself. Between the violence and profane laughter, we’re watching a man who wants to die realizing that, perhaps, he wants want to live. There’s also an amazing comic role for Ralph Fiennes, too. In Bruges basically pulls off the move that True Detective‘s Nic Pizzolatto was going for in the much-discussed finale.
Although it may have seemed that Chris O’ Dowd (Bridesmaids, Girls) emerged fully formed in Judd Apatow-related things, he got his start in the cult British comedy The IT Crowd, where he was one of the “standard nerds” working in tech support — the Irish one — alongside Richard Ayodade. Equal parts irreverent and surreal, the show parodies jobs, computers, and nerd culture aptly and provides many, many laughs per minute. The U.S. tried (and failed) to remake it, the magic, frankly, is in the very funny cast, but the closest thing we have stateside is The Big Bang Theory, and it’s not the same.
Some jokers will think R. Kelly (I know I do), but this Academy Award-nominated animated film is actually a fictionalized tale about the making of the Book of Kells, Ireland’s finest national treasure and an illustrated book of Gospels that dates back to 800 A.D. Potentially dry stuff, but the film follows a young boy, Brendan, who is tasked with finishing the book of Kells, so he escapes to the magical forest where he meets a fairy and competes tasks of daring adventure. Featuring the voice-work of Brendan Gleeson, because he’s in every Irish movie in some form or fashion.
A hunk of Irish cheddar starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman at the apex of their relationship, Far and Away is about a poor boy and rich woman masquerading as brother-and-sister in order to immigrate to America, where they face poverty and prejudice. Cruise’s accent is like a box of Lucky Charms, the film is lensed by Ron Howard, and the preview ends with a voiceover that claims: “All they have left is their dream … but America was made one dream at a time.” *In this film, Cruise is playing a character named “Joseph Donnelly,” but to my knowledge, he is not distantly related to the Donnellys of Boston, my relatives.
30 Rock, “St. Patrick’s Day” (Season 6, Episode 11)
30 Rock was a show with a lot of jokes about Irish-Americans, from Jack Donaghy’s hardscrabble Southie past to that nightmare Boston accent from guest star Julianne Moore to recurring Liz Lemon boyfriend Dennis Duffy and his dopey claims that the Duffy lineage was run out of Ireland. “St. Patrick’s Day,” one of the run of episodes set around holidays, is an excuse for 30 Rock to go green with impunity and highlight Dean Winters’ incredible performance as Dennis. Liz plans on avoiding the holiday and wearing orange: “Chris and I are going to ride out Hurricane Shamrock holed up in our apartment, laughing at excerpts from Angela’s Ashes.” But when Dennis shows up, it’s an excuse for Irish jokes and Tina Fey speaking German and it’s like enjoying a parade without even being there.