Starring John Bluthal, Grant Cramer, Godfrey James, Tina Martin, James Ellis, Sylvester McCoy, Sharon Lee Jones, Gregory Smith, Erica Hess, Mihai Niculescu, Dorina Lazar, Ion Haiduc
Directed by Ted Nicolaou
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
The Moonbeam films share so many similarities that I am no longer surprised to see re-used elements; I actually look forward to them now. Leapin’ Leprechauns comes from the mold of Dragonworld, though it uses its building blocks uniquely to make for a much different film experience. Shot on the rolling green hills of
Ireland Romania, Leapin’ Leprechauns introduces us to a world of wonder and fantasy, the people who believe in it, and a few who do not.
Michael Dennehy (John Bluthal) has lived peacefully on Fairy Hill his entire life, and now in his elderly years gives brief tours of the grounds to visitors on bus excursions. He lives in harmony with the living world around him, including the wee leprechauns and the fairy folk. One day, Michael comes upon a pair of surveyors examining the land, and much to his surprise they’re working under the orders of his son living in America, John Dennehy (Grant Cramer). John wants to turn the land into an amusement park called Ireland Land, so he invites Michael to see the grandkids in the US (getting him out of the way for the surveyors to survey in peace). It’s kind of an inverse of Dragonworld, where an American boy is orphaned and comes to live in Scotland with his grandfather. In the back story of Leapin’ Leprechauns, John must have moved to the US at a young age with his mother or something, because he has zero trace of an accent or respect for his Scottish heritage. This makes me wonder about the wild, roving days of Michael, but all of this is far outside of the confines of Leapin’ Leprechauns.
Along for the ride to America are King Kevin of the Leprechauns (Godfrey James) and Queen Maeve of the Fairy Folk (Tina Martin), who accompany Michael to “preserve the power balance” and provide a bit o’ luck to his journey. A pair of leprechauns (James Ellis & Sylvester McCoy) come along as well, but who knows why. I got the feeling that leprechauns enjoy company, so why go alone when you can take a couple of your leprechaun buddies with you? Anyway, their presence in the US becomes the focus of the film, as Michael visits his son and his typical American family of the ’90s. They are emotionally detached and out of balance with the natural world, so they all think Gramps is crazy for his belief in and conversations with the wee folk.
I don’t have a lot to say about this movie because there isn’t much here. It’s not a plot-driven film at all; it just sort of sets everything up with Ireland Land and then we watch a bunch of leprechaun shenanigans for the next hour. It’s a movie that gets by entirely on its charm, which it thankfully has a lot of. I could be biased as I grew up watching Darby O’Gill and the Little People and The Gnome-Mobile, but whatever the case, I enjoyed my time with the characters.
Now that I think about it, the way the film is structured is potentially part of the film’s message on slowing down and enjoying the little things in life. Instead of jamming a plot down our throats, Leapin’ Leprechauns allows us the time to sit around with the characters and get to know them. Grandpa Michael is visiting his relatives, and in a way, we’re like the leprechauns who stowed away in his suitcase. We’re taking a break from a traditionally structured film to re-connect with what makes life worth living. Sometimes just staying at home and playing horseshoes, or taking a walk in the park are exactly what we need to revitalize our fast-paced, modern lives. The world has only gotten worse in this regard since 1995, so Leapin’ Leprechauns is a good candidate for re-discovery, too!
If you enjoy all things leprechaun and you’re in the mood to be charmed, you’ll have to do some digging because Leapin’ Leprechauns! hasn’t been available since VHS. But if you’ve done your homework, you have the film AND you’re ready to be charmed, then this one should fit the bill. 🙂
Next time I get around to a Full Moon movie I’ll be checking out the sequel at the end of the rainbow: Spellbreaker: Secret of the Leprechauns! See ya then!