This would just be another formula romantic comedy if it wasn't filmed in the beautiful Irish countryside, and the scenery is breathtaking. The rural town of Balle Na Gra, though fictional, is based on a real seaside village in Ireland that hosts an annual matchmaking festival. The casting of witty, cynical Janine Garofolo in the lead further separates this from the sappy Julia Roberts romances. Critics will point out that Janine is just being Janine in this movie. To me that's a good thing.

Marcy (GAROFOLO) is a twenty-something campaign aide for the Boston senator, John McGlory (JAY O SANDERS), who is running for President. He's having trouble getting support, according to the polls, because of a scandal; so campaign manager Nick (LEARY) sends Marcy to Ireland to search for McGlory's relatives. He believes his father's family emigrated to Boston from Balle Na Gra. The plan is for him to fly over himself when Marcy finds the McGlory family and be photographed with them. The assumption? It will trigger in the minds of the American people an association with and nostalgia for John F. Kennedy and send McGlory directly to the White House.

Now Marcy is a 21st century career woman with no interest in marriage, but she arrives just in time for a matchmaking festival. The men, many of which are toothless cretons, are lining up to propose to the American, no doubt with big dreams of green cards. Marcy can't blame them for wanting out of the progressively challenged town, where her laptop and cell phone are useless. "If only I could get the NY TIMES. I feel so disconnected here. I long to fax someone."

She has doubts about finding the senator's family. "Don't latch onto this Kennedy dream, they barely remember the man." She says this as she stares at a picture of JFK and Jackie, the same one that's on the wall of every pub in the town!

Dermot O'Brien(O'SHEA) has one mission in life: finding a mate for everybody, including octegenarians. He's done surveys and there's overwhelming evidence that "having a laugh" between a married couple rates higher than sex. (Maybe in Ireland that's true!) There's no ethics in matchmaking. The end wedded bliss will justify any means. His motive (for a small fee) is only to make lonely people happy: "You get two lonely people together sometimes, and it's like they've known each other all their lives."

Sean Kelly (the sexy O'HARA) is more jaded than Marcy, especially about Politicians who want to use the Irish people to get elected. So they get off to a bad start after a rather amusing introduction that I won't reveal. A former journalist who's returned home from Dublin after a breakup with his wife, Sean now tends bar in his brother's pub. The elderly Millie O'Dowd is Dermot's rival matchmaker. When she bets Dermot fifty pounds that he "can't get Sean together with the Yankee," the fun begins.

Denis Leary as always gives a good performance as the obnoxious Nick, and the assorted characters who inhabit Ball Na Gra are entertaining.

This movie will never win any awards for originality. The plot element of taking a big city dweller to a rural backward town or vice versa has been rehashed many times. (See DOC HOLLYWOOD) but it's still funny. This film DOES stand out from other romantic comedies, and the cinematography alone is worth the rental fee.

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