Celtic Soul (2016)

A buddy trip through Ireland and its ‘Celtic Soul’ (2016)

Jay Baruchel and Eoin O’Callaghan drive across Ireland in search of Jay’s Irish roots and their shared Celtic Soul. It’s a self-described collection of lovely moments tied together within the larger context of what it means to be an immigrant, to be Irish, and to be a fan of Celtic FC.

The buddy road trip has become such a popular movie format, there are multiple sites listing the 25 best. (Google “buddy road trip movies”. Or don’t.) It largely started with the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby “Road” movies. Wikipedia has a nice summary of the genre, which allows 2 men to have a relationship in close proximity.

On the parent side, be forewarned that Celtic Soul averages almost one F-bomb per minute of viewing.

On the travelogue side, the Irish landscape is more than just a small Canada. The viewer gets to learn some Irish culture and history alongside Baruchel. He may be descended from Grace O’Malley, a 16th Century female Irish pirate. The bros watch and take a whack at the amateur-only, ancient Gaelic sport of hurling, which looks like a dangerous mix of lacrosse and ice hockey.

The emotional high point of the trip includes a visit to the Celtic training grounds, and the film wraps up at a Celtic-Inverness game.

I learned a few more things from this film. First of all, I learned that Eoin is pronounced “Owen”—sort of. And I admit, before this film, I didn’t know that Celtic plays in Scotland, not Ireland. But apparently, a lot of the Celtic locals in Glasgow don’t seem to know that either.

Like many EPL teams (see Thank God for Football), the Celtic football club was founded by a church as a way to counter poverty and wayward youth. The club is still associated with St. Mary’s RC Parish, but >100 years later, after a 1994-1999 financial rescue by Canadian businessman Fergus McCann, Celtic FC is now a PLC (Public Limited Company). However, a large number of its shares may have recently been bought by off-shore owners.

Why this film was disappointing

So now that I’ve said all the nice things I can about this film, I have to say that I was disappointed, and probably for the wrong reason.

I have really enjoyed the nerdy/nice boy roles that Jay Baruchel has portrayed in several movies: Goon, Tropic Thunder, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. But in this film, it feels like 85% of the time, he is either stoned or has very bad conjunctivitis. It was so distracting that I mentally discounted his show of emotions, or even why he was a Celtic fan. It’s still an enjoyable film, but a better title for the movie could have been, “Kiss Me, I’m Irish”.

Eoin O’Callaghan should be a star

On the other hand, I was impressed with Eoin, who spent about 4 years bringing this film to fruition and is pushing it on the festival circuit. It was Markham Street Films (founded by Director Michael McNamara) who suggested Eoin be on-camera and that the film be a buddy road trip, rather than Baruchel alone.

Maybe Eoin should become a screenwriter or comic actor. I never watched Fox Soccer Report when he was on it in 2009-2012, but he is refreshing to watch in Celtic Soul. Why doesn’t ESPN replace Tommy Smyth with him?

The movie website gives a detailed map and travelogue of all the places they went. Developed by Montreal-based PlankDesign.com.

I saw this soccer movie at Cinequest Film Festival in Redwood City, CA, which was announced as the film’s second showing in the USA.

6 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 6