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Film / The Luck of the Irish

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The Luck of the Irish is a 2001 Disney Channel Original Movie. It stars Ryan Merriman as Kyle Johnson, who is dealing with the upcoming Heritage Day festival and trying to figure out what the heritage of his own family is. He loses his lucky coin in the process, comes upon his grandfather, starts turning into an actual leprechaun, and ends up making a bet with an evil leprechaun to get his lucky coin back.

Also stars Timothy Omundson as Seamus Mctiernen, the antagonist of the film.

Not to be confused with the 1948 film of the same name.

This telefilm contains examples of:

  • The Bet: In the second half of the film, Seamus and Kyle make a bet that if the latter beats the former in sports, he can have his lucky coin back; otherwise, Seamus keeps it. It's not entirely clear who's judging the first competition; no neutral third party is shown, and it's not likely that Seamus would judge fairly. For example, he clearly doesn't think that Kyle's break-dancing counts as step, and yet Kyle wins that round.
  • Born Lucky: Kyle is a popular junior high basketball player, gets good grades by guessing answers, and often finds money on the ground because of the lucky gold coin he wore his whole life. This trope is also deconstructed, as Kyle's insane luck only comes from his gold coin, and when he loses the coin, he loses all of that luck. He then realizes that he doesn't actually know how to do anything without having his luck to fall back on, especially in the area of basketball, where he went from the team's star player to missing every shot he takes.
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  • By the Hair: Seamus captures Kyle's grandfather by grabbing his beard at one point.
  • Chekhov's Gun: It's mentioned that when Kyle's mom, Kate, had told her father, Reilly, about her then finacé, that he had misheard her state he came from Éire (the Irish word for "Ireland") when in fact it was Erie as in Lake Erie, Cleveland. Read Exact Words for more.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot:
    • If Kyle's parents just told him his mom's side of the family is from Ireland, then he wouldn't have been sneaking behind their backs to find out and wonder why they're so determined to keep it a secret, which led to him losing his lucky coin. Then again, his parents realize it was a mistake not telling him the whole truth in the first place.
    • Conversely, they also don't tell him where his father's side hails from. Nothing more than "Cleveland" is stated as to where they're from when his side of the family would be from somewhere in Europe.
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  • Crappy Carnival: Kyle and Russ investigate an Irish carnival that is basically set up to showcase Seamus. This is where Kyle loses his lucky coin, which also happens to be a family heirloom.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Reilly wasn't happy with his daughter's choice in a husband at first. He learns to accept Bob in the end, though.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: The movie begins with Kyle having a nightmare where he's so tiny that no one can see him onstage and accidentally gets stepped on by Bonnie. He finds out that without his lucky coin, he will indeed eventually shrink as he changes into a leprechaun like his mother.
  • Evil Redhead: When he starts losing the basketball game, Seamus's hair turns red.
  • Exact Words: Seamus pulls this on Kyle in the bet when they tie, saying that he was supposed to beat him and a tie isn't considered such; he also says that he might let Kyle's grandfather go. After the bet, he points out that he could just as easily keep him as his slave forever, since "might" doesn't constitute a definitive statement, which leads into the last bet and the climax of the movie: Kyle gets even as the terms of the last bet was that if he won, Seamus would be sent back to Erie. Seamus assumes the stupid American means Éire and even mocks him on the pronunciation.
    Seamus: Would you at least learn to say it? The land of your forefathers isn't Erie, it's Éire. -
    Kyle: [smirks] My father's from Cleveland. [cue Oh, Crap! from Seamus as he shrinks and is blasted to Lake Erie] "To forever be banished within the shores of Erie." Hope he can swim.
  • Fiery Redhead: After Kyle loses his lucky coin, his mother reverts to this.
  • Foreign Remake: An Indian remake of this film, titled Luck Luck Ki Baat, aired on the country's local version of Disney Channel in 2012.
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: At the beginning of the movie, Kyle is having a nightmare where he's so tiny that nobody can see him onstage. Bonnie, who looks absolutely ginormous compared to him, then accidentally steps on him, which we see from his point of view.
  • Gold Fever: Happens to the grandfather after entering the antagonist's traveling van and coming upon the treasure chest of stolen gold coins. Kyle talks him out of stealing all of the gold coins and just take theirs.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Kyle, who's half-Leprechaun.
  • Hidden Depths: Bonnie can play basketball well and really wants to try out, but her dad wants her to focus on her studies to get a good scholarship. Kyle's grandfather finds out about this and tells her father that his potato chip factory is willing to give her a full scholarship, as long as she plays some sort of sport. Her father immediately says that she's trying out for basketball.
  • I Have No Son!: When Kyle first comes to his grandfather's potato chip factory, he explains who he is to the security guard. However, the guard tells him that his grandfather claims that he doesn't have a grandson. While it could be assumed that he simply might not know about Kyle (having been estranged from his daughter for decades), after finally meeting Kyle, he immediately recognizes him (he previously met him at the carnival).
    Reilly O'Reilly: Better not bake this one boys. I think it's me grandson.
  • Immigrant Parents:
    • The case for Kyle's grandfather, who came over to the United States from Ireland. It seems his mother may have been actually born in America, while his father is from Cleveland, Ohio. The latter fact becomes somewhat of a plot point, on account of it being used early on by his parents to obfuscate his Irish (and Leprechaun) heritage.
    • Bonnie's father has a strong Spanish accent, implying that he came over from South of the Border.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Kyle's mother is a pureblood Leprechaun and his father is an American human. This is the reason why his mother and grandfather have a strained relationship.
    • Later, Kyle and Bonnie start dating, although that can be called "interspecies" with a stretch, since he's half-human.
  • Involuntary Dance: Kyle breaks into uncontrollable tap dancing upon hearing Irish music twice; once at a carnival, and again when his grandfather plays a flute.
  • Large Ham: Seamus McTiernan. I am the saint of the step!!!
  • Leprechaun: Kyle is part leprechaun due to his mother being one. Kyle learns this after seeing his mother has shrunken.
  • Megaton Punch: Despite being shrunken, Kyle's mom gives a good swing at her father.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After Kyle lost his first game (without his coin), Bonnie wanted to apologize to him, thinking she somehow jinxed him after their argument.
  • No Ontological Inertia: After Kyle loses the coin, the magic that was keeping the O'Reilys human starts to wane. Kyle notices his hair getting redder, his ears becoming more pointed, and he starts talking in an Irish accent. His mother shrinks to the standard size of a Leprechaun. His grandfather gets hit with this the worst, as he begins to start to show his rightful age by growing a beard. They also begin losing their luck as well.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Kyle's mother is estranged from her father, as he didn't want her to marry a human, much less an American.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • Kyle is prone to breaking into an Irish accent after he loses his coin. Justified, though, as he's part Leprechaun.
    • Subverted with the cast as a majority of them aren't really Irish. However, Henry Gibson, who played the grandfather, was of Irish decent, making him the closest thing to an Irish actor in the movie.
      Kyle: Does Mom look a wee bit... I said "a wee bit".
      Bob: [averting his eyes] Yeah, you did.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    Seamus: GIVE! ME! THE! BALL!!
  • Really 700 Years Old:
    • Kyle's grandfather is suggested to be at least 80 years old and probably quite a lot older than that, despite looking more like he is in his 60's. He claims to have accidentally invented the potato chip, to give you an idea.
    • It is never admitted if Seamus is this trope as well, but given the sheer collection of gold coins he has, this could also be the case for him as well.
    • Kyle's great-grandmother is also mentioned to be alive and "healthy as a horse".
  • Redhead In Green: Most of the Leprechauns, who have red hair, tend to wear/own something green.
  • Red Herring: Kyle and his parents assume his grandfather stole his coin as petty revenge for Kate marrying a human. Even after Reilly explained that he wouldn't, Kyle's parents don't believe him. And when Reilly calls Kate out, she just punches him and says they don't need his help.
  • Repetitive Name: Reilly O'Reilly.
  • The Resenter: Bonnie Lopez to Kyle, for always being so lucky at everything without ever really working hard for them.
  • Separated by a Common Language: A variation. After losing his lucky coin, Kyle has a disastrous basketball game, which his parents watch. Since his mother has already started turning back into a leprechaun, her speech is peppered with Irish words. She tells Kyle that he "should be hurlin'". Kyle assumes she means "throwing up" and tells her he's not sick, he just had a bad game. She actually means the traditional Irish sport called hurling (which Kyle ends up playing later in the film).
  • Shout-Out: As his ears become pointier, Kyle yelps that he's "turning into a Vulcan".
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Seamus and his comrades sing "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" in the restaurant when they are celebrating their capture of the coins. This song, where each verse (excluding the first, which provides background) details how a returning soldier had been maimed and crippled in a war, is quite tragic, and wouldn't be many people's choice for a celebratory song. Especially (you would think), not people who are characters in lighthearted Disney movies. The scene cuts away before the grim parts start at least.
  • Sore Loser: Seamus. He keeps his word and returns the coin, but tries to dampen the victory by claiming he has more stolen ones stashed away and swears revenge on Kyle's family. Luckily the terms of the bet put a stop to that.
  • Take That!: When Russell notices Kyle's hair is a shade of red (the start of his transformation into a leprechaun), he says he wishes he can dye his hair too but his dad "has a thing against Dennis Rodman".
  • Token Trio: Irish-American Kyle Johnson, his African-American best friend Russ Halloway, and his Hispanic love interest Bonnie Lopez.
  • Tournament Arc: Used as the backdrop as Kyle and his best friend Russ are both on the junior high school basketball team. They eventually make it to the state championship, which is utilized as part of the final bet.
  • Villain Has a Point: A minor one, but when Kyle questions if the sports he is competing against Seamus with are real sports, Seamus incredulously questions him how he can know nothing of his culture.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Semaus when Kyle regains his confidence and begins beating him in the basketball tournament. He actually goes One-Winged Angel, changing into his far more darrig form, ranting all the while that he can't be beaten.
  • The X of Y: The Luck of the Irish.
  • You Know I'm Black, Right?: Bonnie learns the hard way about discussing discrimination with your Token Black Friend in what may be one of the most retrospectively awkward jokes ever to come out of a Disney movie.
    Bonnie: When the Irish came to America, things were tough, and they had to work at jobs that other people wouldn't take, and they didn't get paid what they deserved...
    Russell: Well, at least they got paid.
    [Kyle's dad nods in agreement]


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