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‘Leprechaun’ (R)

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
January 09, 1993

There will be no pot of gold at the box office for "Leprechaun," a wee film notable only for Warwick Davis's nasty, amphetamine-driven portrayal of said creature. Davis, best known for playing the title role in Ron Howard's "Willow," gives it his all but probably wishes he could have used some of his magic powers to improve Mark Jones's script, which has major continuity and credibility problems.

Playing more like a storyboard than a film, "Leprechaun" recounts the travails of a nasty little man with an obsession for shining shoes and hoarding gold. One Dan O'Grady has returned to his North Dakota town after a visit to ancestral Ireland, bringing with him a pot of gold won as ransom from a captured leprechaun (this incident happens before the filming starts, a typical lack of detail). The green-cardless creature has somehow gotten past customs in a suitcase, and before you can spell sheela na gig, Mrs. O'Grady is dead, the Mr. is in a very bad way and the leprechaun is trapped in a basement crate by a four-leaf clover, which is to leprechauns what garlic is to vampires.

Skip ahead 10 years. A man and his daughter move from California to the abandoned O'Grady house (no explanation given), where they hire three house painters -- one studly, one preteen, one mentally handicapped. One of them releases the leprechaun by accident.

The kid and the gentle giant subsequently discover the pot of gold, which of course irritates the leprechaun, and the film slowly degenerates into mayhem, little of which is particularly riveting. All of the "human" actors are so bland it's not even worth mentioning their names. Davis, on the other hand, seems game to recast the normally mischievous leprechaun as a malevolent vengeance-seeker with just a hint of sexual edge -- call him a lech-prechaun. In makeup, Davis is quite evil-looking and, like most good actors facing similar challenges, imbues a weak character with a strong presence. The movie is interesting only when he's wheeling about on screen, but in retrospect this is probably one set of reels Davis wishes he had sat out.

"Leprechaun" is rated R for violence and language.

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