Appealing 'Cowboys'

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 17, 2004

The fact that "Cowboys & Angels" -- an odd-couple dramedy out of Ireland about the friendship between an awkward heterosexual civil servant (Michael Legge) and his gay, fashion-student roommate (Allen Leech) -- manages to avoid turning into either "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" or a sexual-conversion story earns it two big points in the plus column. Otherwise, it's a sweet but slight film whose undeniable appeal is largely due to the performances of its flat-out adorable leads.

With twinkle and charm to spare, Legge plays Shane, a 20-ish desk jockey in Limerick's Department of Agriculture who moves in with Leech's flamboyant but never nancy Vincent when the two former secondary-school classmates discover themselves drooling over the same prohibitively expensive apartment. This sitcom set-up, however, is quickly transcended by developments that take Shane deep into the drug-dealing demimonde, to which he finds himself drawn by the prospect of easy money -- partly to pay for his new Vincent-inspired wardrobe, and partly as a means of earning the tuition for his own enrollment in art school. Yes, Shane has a dream, too (not to mention talent), and the last person he wants to end up like is his Ag Department co-worker Jerry (Frank Kelly), a gray-haired loser who never had the nerve "to do something different."

The follow-your-bliss premise is hardly new, of course, but the likable Legge and Leech sell it like the dickens. I, for one, am buying.

COWBOYS & ANGELS (PG, 89 minutes) -- Contains obscenity, drug use, a beating and mild sensuality. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company