Leapin’ Leprechauns! (1995)

I want to tell you a tale about a guy who didn’t believe in the wee folk. He was given to lying to his pops, patronizing his family and worst of all possessing a douchey countenance and haircut.

He heard stories that his immortal soul was bound to be hauled off by some evil cloud-monster-banshee thing to whatever hell the wee folk think up for non-believers (lots of soccer and Riverdance, but I’m just guessing), but he what did he care because these little turds weren’t real, right?

But then, like in all other major religions, these pesky pipsqueaks started giving him signs like causing food to get shoved in his face! And magic markers to fly around! And a vase full of water tipping over on his plans for the moronically named Irelandland! (I like to think King Kevin was just trying to save this dope from himself with that trick.)

Those of us who are already strong believers and knowing we’ll be comfortably sitting out the End Times in Heaven, having been raptured and all for signing up early, know exactly how it’s going to play out: good old Johnny the leprechaun atheist is going to see the rainbow-colored light only when he’s literally face to face with a dude dressed up in a grim reaper costume while his already converted son is braying at him to just believe so that he can see his 6 inch high saviors!

If you’ve ever watched one of those Christian conversion movies starring the likes of Kirk Cameron or David A.R. White, Leapin’ Leprechauns! is pretty much like Left Behind or Six: The Mark Unleashed, but with Leprechauns substituted for Jesus and two foreign psychiatrists instead of the Antichrist.

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Of course Leapin’ Leprechauns! is better than those movies because of one reason: wee folk pranks! Sure, the Antichrist causes nations to go to war, enslaves millions and usually speaks in a vaguely European accent (the Antichrist is never American – you can look that up in the Bible!), but these little Irish irritants cause playground equipment to go crazy and throw kids from swings and merry go-rounds and even makes them go backwards up a slide! Let’s see the Beast do that!

But the epic playground Armageddon wrought by these pint-sized pests would be only skinned knees and puked up Lunchables signifying nothing more than director Ted Nicolaou’s mistaken belief that speeding up the film is ever a good idea for a special effect if it wasn’t in service to a plot that shows the value of giving in to your crazy old father’s ravings about seeing tiny folks everywhere he turns.

Michael Dennehy runs the property on old Fairy Hill in Ireland where leprechauns and fairies hang out. But something foul is afoot when a couple of surveyors arrive to check out the property for a construction project.

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One slightly awkward phone call later, it becomes apparent that Michael’s son in America is scheming to turn the property into an amusement park, though he lies to his father about it and changes the subject by inviting him to visit. Three leprechauns and a fairy queen stowaway in his luggage and the next stop is Denver to meet his sourpuss middle class family. As this is a family film from Charles Band’s Full Moon Entertainment (under its Moonbeam Entertainment banner) there are a couple of obnoxious kids that the movie mostly ignores in favor of Michael bickering with the wee folk.

The little girl is easily converted to Leprechaunism, but the boy is one of those nerds with glasses obsessed with science who will likely grow up to perpetrate a mass casualty event if gramps can’t find a way to make him believe. The mom gets converted once she accidentally traps King Kevin in the garbage and sees the can moving around!

Dad is the last to join up and in fact continues to plot to have grandpa locked away so that the amusement park can be built. (Dad doesn’t do anything overtly evil, but the casual way he lies and schemes to get his dad out of the picture is disturbing and I was disappointed that he got saved in the end and wasn’t turned into a statue, pumpkin, pillar of salt or whatever heinous hocus pocus these little dudes do to bad guys.)

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With its decided lack of forward momentum (nothing much seems to happen for ages, the doctor neighbors who are set up to be bad guys get victimized by the leprechauns at a dinner party and aren’t seen again, gramps talks nonstop about the wee folk until the family just gives up and agrees to believe in them) the movie never feels like it’s building toward anything of much interest. Do I really care if dad takes grandpa to get a psychological evaluation? Is there any doubt that the leprechauns and the rest of the family wouldn’t just break him out anyway?

The leprechauns themselves get tiresome in no time due to their limited bag of tricks and their constant babble. This is a movie about magical little people, but I have to watch them help the mother with her painting? Or watch them rig a horseshoe game between gramps and his grandson? Or bounce a ball off some kids’ faces? And when the mom gets three wishes, all she comes up with is wishing that the family can see the leprechauns, that they’ll be safe and always love each other? What about a flying car? Or a talking dog? Or a husband who isn’t a deceitful tool?

Leapin’ Leprechauns! is as unambitious as the leprechauns’ use of their magic powers and so pedestrian in every thing it attempts that if old King Kevin popped out of my garbage giving me three wishes, my first wish would be that I never saw or heard of this movie. My second wish would be the same just as a backup in case for some reason the first wish failed. And my third wish? Talking dog. Duh. I’m not wasting them all!

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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