Tribeca 2010 Review: ZONAD

Drew Tinnin

by: Drew Tinnin
April 30th, 2010

Rating: 3.5/5

Directors: John Carney, Kieran Carney
Cast: Simon Delaney, David Murray, Slaine Kelly

The Irish are known for two things: poetry and drinking. Some of the greatest creative minds have come from the land of 1000 welcomes while others have squandered the opportunity to carry on the great literary tradition of Ireland by drowning in Guinness and pub spillage. In ZONAD, a great mind of a different breed descends upon the sleepy, quaint village of Ballymoran in the form of an overweight alien with an overgrown bicycle helmet who proceeds to become the town hero whilst consuming as much alcohol as possible.

ZONAD is originally based on a short by John and Kieran Carney who also helmed the feature, and at only 78 minutes, the premise isn’t really built for a film much longer than that. As much of the film teeters between the hilarious and down right ridiculous. John wrote and directed the Oscar winning ONCE back in 2006 and the only similarity ZONAD has with that quiet, beautiful film is the fact that both have a few song performances in them – although Zonad (Simon Delaney) just sings when he’s trying to get laid.

And it works. The women, and really everyone, in Ballymoran are so sheltered and in need of some excitement that they take Zonad in and accept them as the star of their community without even thinking about the possibility that Zonad might not be what he claims to be; and he’s not, by the way. In fact, the man behind the red vinyl jumpsuit and ski shades is not an alien at all. In actuality, he’s one of two escaped alcoholics who were in a nearby rehab center. Zonad leaves his buddy in the lurch and proceeds to take advantage of the borderline idiotic gullibility of the Cassidy’s – a family that lets Zonad live with them during his stay – and the townspeople who can’t get enough of this lovable creature.

The problem arises when the second rehab escapee hits town, see’s what Zonad’s up to, and decides to one-up his fellow patient by donning a women’s jumpsuit-turned-spacesuit and calling himself the supreme ruler Bonad. The newly instated Bonad immediately takes over as the town’s new hero and proceeds to sleep around, play darts and drink himself into a stupor. Zonad then plans his revenge which culminates in an epic battle to the tune of “Cavaleria Rusticana” – a nice touch that DeNiro probably got a chuckle out of since it’s the opening song in RAGING BULL.

There’s an underlying homage to ’50s sci-fi B-movies that makes this all work and not seem completely and utterly unbelievable, and ZONAD succeeds where other films like ALIEN TRESPASS did not because it doesn’t play it as straight parody. The characters aren’t expected to learn from their mistakes and that’s part of their charm. They are blissfully unaware and after Zonad and Bonad leave, I’m sure the whole affair will just wind up as a great pub story.

The tone of the film lets the audience really just sit back and enjoy the antics without getting bored or questioning the moronic tendencies of Ballymoran inhabitants. It’s just good silly fun. ZONAD is definitely tailored to be one of those six-pack rentals where you invite your funniest friends over for a good laugh. (There’s an epic ZONAD-inspired drinking game just waiting to be spawned, guaranteed.)

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  • James McNally

    Just watched this and you’ve nailed it. Enjoyable spoof/homage of 50s sci-fi mixed with lowbrow comedy. The tone is all over the place, and yet I laughed quite a bit.

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