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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie is intended to entertain rather than educate.
The cultural diversity of the U.S. is celebrated, although some depictions play up to problematic stereotypes. History shouldn't be ignored. The value of friendship. The concept that you don't need luck to succeed in life if you have hard work and the support of loved ones on your side.
Positive Role Models
Kyle goes from being a lucky high school basketball star with everything going for him to a guy lost in the midst of a gradually tightening torrent of bad luck and magic. Seamus McTiernen is an evil leprechaun who aims to control all the leprechauns. Bonnie Lopez, Kyle's classmate, remains a strong moral guide, often proving more capable than the adults. Besides Bonnie, there's a strong group of friends at the core of the film whose constant sticking up for one another is something to admire and model one's actions after.
There are many characters from all kinds of racial backgrounds in the movie, and appreciating their differences forms a major part of the plot. However, there are still several moments of implicit bias and stereotyping in the movie, such as with the White male main character, the Black best friend, the responsible and overachieving school girl, and the movie's countless Irish stereotypes. But some gender stereotypes are challenged, such as that girls can't play basketball. The movie's messages about diverse characters are worthwhile, but are at times problematically expressed. All the movie's characters appear to be heterosexual and able-bodied, and the conversation about diversity in the movie is entirely expressed through a White lens.
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Violence & Scariness
An evil leprechaun wishes to take control of all leprechauns. There are two chase scenes, one on foot through a potato factory and one by vehicle through the streets of the town. Neither involve any violence.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There are some suggested romantic sparks between two teens, but no kissing or sex.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One brief scene takes place in an Irish pub.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Luck of the Irish is a lighthearted fantasy comedy Disney TV movie with some positive messages about cultural diversity that are undermined by problematic stereotypes. Kyle Johnson (Ryan Merriman), a high school basketball star, discovers that he is part leprechaun after his lucky charm is stolen. The culprit is an evil leprechaun called Seamus McTiernen (Timothy Omundson) who plans to control all leprechauns. Despite Seamus' intentions, there's no serious threat or peril. Although the movie's stated messages about the importance of cultural diversity and heritage are praiseworthy, it struggles to prove those messages itself because of its use of various stereotypes. The most prominent of these involves Irish culture, such as over-the-top accents, cartoonish clothing styles, and ginger hair. In addition, the movie's messages about cultural diversity might have less of an impact due to it being seen solely through a White lens. In the end, the movie is a fanciful high school romp with life-affirming -- albeit contradictory -- messages about culture and friendship. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This 2001 coming-of-age adventure comedy is something of a contradiction. While The Luck of the Irish exhibits the charm expected from a Disney TV movie -- including unconditional friendship and the importance of moral reasoning -- it has an unavoidable rift at its center. While the characters constantly champion the importance of cultural diversity and the appreciation of one's heritage, the movie rests on several stereotypes that implicitly perpetuate the opposite of these ideas. The wildly cartoonish and stereotype-laden portrayal of Irish culture, in addition to the "Black best friend," and the "responsible and high-achieving first-generation American school girl," are all tiresome and lazy. These cliched portrayals are hard to miss, as is the irony of making a movie about cultural diversity in the U.S. as seen through a White lens.
A movie very much of its time, there's no doubting The Luck of the Irish's good intentions. The underlying messages about culture diversity and the idea that you don't need luck when you have the support of family and friends on your side are all admirable. It's just the way these positive themes are executed that is the problem.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.