What do you say about comedies that are so gentle, they don’t register at all? Jon Butler’s The Stag has opportunities to be send up of modern masculine culture.
He’s got the right set up for it. The arty and effeminate groom Fionnen, his gay brother Little Kevin with partner, Big Kevin, and the emasculated trio of best man Davin, computer geek Simon, and brother-in-law known as The Machine. Despite Fionnen’s protests his fiancé convinces Davin to take the boys out for a camping stag party, and despite Davin’s protests he can’t keep her obnoxious brother The Machine away either.
Knowing little about camping, they head out into the Irish wilderness on an adventure that will predictably, leave them lost, alone, and naked. Nothing happens in The Stag that will surprise you from its onset, and that’s most of its problem.
Butler is too afraid to delve into any complicated issues that he treats his characters and situations with kiddie gloves. No one’s ever truly dislikeable, none of the conflicts are very severe and all of it is catered to keep its target audience from having a moment of unpleasantness.
All the initial conflicts in the film, dissipate. The Machine’s initial homophobia and annoyance dissolves away and nothing about Fionnen’s “groomzilla” behaviour is ever addressed. It’s only remaining conflict is a love-loss between groom and best man over a girl. It’s not enough, and it’s been done to death.
All the elements that could make the film stand out have left it, leaving only the one its demographic is far too comfortable with.
Even the added subplot involving Fionnen and Little Kevin’s homophobic father hurts the picture. It’s admirable for sure, but since we don’t meet the father until his transformation into tolerance, how effective of a subplot is it?
The Stag is so delicate, predictable and weak, you’ll forget it the moment it’s done.