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‘Irish Wish’ Is a Frankenstein’s Monster of Better Romantic Comedies

‘Irish Wish’ Is a Frankenstein’s Monster of Better Romantic Comedies
‘Irish Wish’ Is a Frankenstein’s Monster of Better Romantic Comedies

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This post contains spoilers for Irish Wish.

Some of the best romantic comedies ever made are intentional translations of the rom-coms that came before them. You’ve Got Mail modernizes The Shop Around the Corner, just as Clueless relocates Jane Austen’s Emma to Beverly Hills. Some films are blatant with their borrowing—think the John Hughes-inspired montage in Easy A—while others feel more subliminal (are 13 Going on 30 and Poor Things the same movie in far different modes?). Then there is Netflix’s Irish Wish, an Ireland-set rom-com, released just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, starring Lindsay Lohan that basically exists only as a reminder of the far better movies it evokes during its strained 93-minute runtime.

The movie’s central conceit—Lohan is Maddie, a hapless book editor who inadvertently sets one of her best friends up with the author she’s secretly in love with, then uses magic to test-run the romance she’s long dreamed of—merely reheats elements of movies that are already getting endlessly rewatched. Now that Irish Wish, written by Hallmark scribe Kirsten Hansen and directed by Janeen Damian (who was also behind Lohan’s 2022 film, Falling for Christmas, a.k.a. holiday-themed Overboard), has wandered onto Netflix, let’s dive into all the other rom-coms that infiltrate the film.

Leap Year

Let’s start with the locale. Maddie’s beloved author Paul Kennedy (Alexander Vlahos) hails from Ireland. Because he and Maddie’s best friend Emma (Elizabeth Tan) decide to get married there, much of the movie takes place overseas. While a review from The Irish Times notes the “criminally little Irish involvement” in the production, Irish Wish leans heavily into the country’s most obvious exports—from frequent Guinness cutaways to blaring Celtic music. It brings to mind Leap Year, another Ireland-located romantic comedy starring Amy Adams, our Lohan proxy, and Matthew Goode (i.e. Ed Speleers in Irish Wish) as the man she gets distracted by while trying to win the affections of Adam Scott, who moves through that film with Paul-esque indifference. (The dodgy Irish accents would also be at home in 2007’s P.S. I Love You, where Jeffrey Dean Morgan is asked to play an Irishmen who sweeps Hilary Swank off her feet.)

Both films begin with our leading lady expecting commitment from the object of her desire. Adams’s Anna gets a pair of diamond earrings instead of an engagement ring from her long-term boyfriend; Maddie is pitched another book by Paul when she’s expecting to get asked on a date. Road trips through the Irish countryside between enemies who are destined to become lovers ensue. And while Goode would famously disown this “turgid” movie in an interview with UK’s Telegraph“I just know that there are a lot of people who will say it is the worst film of 2010”—it still lands with more finesse than Irish Wish could ever hope to possess.

The Wedding Date

Speaking of Amy Adams: she plays the bride-to-be in this 2005 romcom, which centers on her older sister Kat (Debra Messing) and the man she hires (Dermot Mulroney) as her date for the sprawling multi-day destination wedding. Irish Wish leans into the claustrophobic nature of extended destination wedding festivities. The Wedding Date’s Holland Taylor would fit right into the stuffy European interiors we see in Irish Wish, sipping midday cocktails with some of the more chaotic members of Paul’s extended brood. And while Messing’s character initially hires Mulroney only to annoy the ex she may still harbor feelings for, like Maddie, she finds that the man she was pining over doesn’t hold a candle to her new love interest.

My Best Friend’s Wedding

Cameron Diaz, Dermot Mulroney, and Julia Roberts in 1998’s My Best Friends WeddingRonald Siemoneit/Getty Images

Any heroine hell-bent on ruining a wedding inevitably conjures Julia Roberts’s Julianne, who goes to some pretty insidious lengths to halt the nuptials between her best friend (Mulroney again, playing the groom this time) and his betrothed, Kimberly (Cameron Diaz). As in Irish Wish, the leading lady realizes that she’s fighting for something she doesn’t really want, something both women realize through conversations with supporting characters who often get relegated to isolated phone call scenes. But while Rupert Everett’s George gets to escape his landline lockup to join the wedded festivities, Jane Seymour was likely all-too-happy to keep her Iowan high school principal character in exile—where all of her scenes as Maddie’s mother could likely be shot in a single day.

27 Dresses

While there are traces of all those other films, no film gets more flagrantly copied in Irish Wish than 2008’s 27 Dresses. Maddie is a book editor devoted just as much to her work as she is her star client, Paul. In 27 Dresses, Katherine Heigl’s Jane is a dogged assistant to her boss George (Edward Burns), in part because she’s also hopelessly in love with him. Just as Maddie is an accidental matchmaker for Paul and her best friend, Jane unwittingly sets George up with her younger sister, Tess (Malin Akerman). In each film, the women who get the guy briefly pretend to be someone they’re not in order to sustain the relationship. Both Maddie and Jane must watch as a woman close to them plans a wedding to the man they pictured themselves marrying, all because she introduced them.

This parallel also extends to the arrival of said heroine’s rightful love interest. Maddie’s meet-cute with James, a wedding photographer with a chip on his shoulder, starts with a banter-filled bus ride from the airport into Ireland. They instantly dislike each other for reasons that are spelled out better in 27 Dresses, where Jane and Kevin (James Marsden), a wedding columnist with that same darn chip, share a tense cab ride. Later in both films, these pairings get caught in rain storms while on errands for their movies’ respective weddings—Maddie and James are scouting locations for photos, Jane and Kevin are registering for gifts. Halted by the weather, they abandon their vehicles and hunker down for drinks at hole-in-the-wall bars where they eventually break out into drunken dances and spend the night together in close quarters. By movies’ end, both of our main characters discover that they were only in love with the idea of their initial men, but have found a better match in the suitors they didn’t—but we did—see coming.

Other Lindsay Lohan Movies

Image may contain Samaire Armstrong Lindsay Lohan Accessories Bag Handbag Purse Adult Person Head Face and Happy

Lohan in 2005’s Just My LuckCarvalho

Lohan is no stranger to a high-concept plot device. After all, she traded places in both 1998’s The Parent Trap and 2003’s Freaky Friday, before dabbling in some magic realism with 2006’s Just My Luck and even 2005’s Herbie: Fully Loaded, a real movie that was actually made. Lohan’s oeuvre gets referenced during Irish Wish’s initial wish-making scene, where Saint Brigid (Dawn Bardfield), a patron saint of Ireland, grants her desire to marry Paul. At first, Lohan’s Maddie is skeptical that anything fantastical has even happened. “Isn’t there supposed to be an earthquake or a lightning bolt or something?” she asks, referencing the outlandish scenarios that occur in Freaky Friday—an earthquake places Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis in each other’s bodies—and Just My Luck—her character gets struck by lightning when her good fortune swaps with the cursed karma of Chris Pine’s character. Unfortunately, both of those movies make for a more enjoyable watch than Lohan’s latest.

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