Cinema Review – Jack and Ralph Plan a Murder

Jack (Jeff Doyle) is a quiet man whose life reaches a turning point when a co-worker unmercifully bullies him. Along with his imaginary friend Ralph (Johnny Elliot), Jack decides to take revenge on his torturer in the most final manner possible.

Writer/director Jeff Doyle plays Jack, a mild mannered man whose reliance on his brash imaginary friend, Ralph, has left him socially awkward and emotionally stunted as an adult. Doyle is the voice of reason throughout the film, although he doesn’t always listen to the great advice he gives himself. Johnny Elliot makes up the other half of the titular duo; as loud mouthed and foul as Jack is meek, Elliot obviously relished the chance to play Ralph, and handles even his most vile lines with aplomb.

Chris Newman as Pat takes on the role of the villainous bully, leaving Jack and Ralph to side step into that of anti-hero. Newman embraces the darkness and cruelty of his character, allowing every move that he makes to be sinister and menacing. Peter Coonan takes on the role of an over-the-top pimp whose descriptions of his ‘girls’ borders on the nightmarish.

At it’s heart, Jack and Ralph Plan a Murder is incredibly vulgar and dark buddy comedy, which has touches of Fight Club and Ted surrounding the development and depth of the title characters’ relationship. That said however, there is more going on here than dark humour and potential murder; the film deals with the notion of solitude and the effect this has on one man. Doyle’s script examines the fact that Jack’s childhood imaginary friend never left him, and as Jack invested more into the friend that was always there for him, his ability to deal with the world as a whole diminished, leaving him vulnerable and ultimately alone.

As a director, Doyle heightens every aspect of the film; every character is utterly over-the-top, leaving the film feeling both nightmarish and dream-like in equal measure. Crude becomes vulgar under the microscope of Doyle’s camera, which may alienate some audience members, but Ralph’s nastiness is almost always balanced out by Jack’s sincerity.

Jack and Ralph Plan a Murder is a film that feels both familiar and new, as writer/director Jeff Doyle tackles the troubles that come of relying too much on oneself. The humour is dark and exceedingly low brow, and is the kind of comedy that will offend and entertain in equal measure. Underneath the vulgarity, however, there is emotional depth and warmth, and a careful examination of the impact of solitude.

Rating: 4/5

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