When Dono's U2 tribute band - U3 - is going nowhere after the tragic death of their drummer, Dono and his friend Cormac start working in a head shop. Getting used to being around drugs and not use them is just one of many problems the two stumble upon, as their daily routine consists of bizarre occurances and meeting shady people in their shop.
Here we are again with another Irish independent product to review. The country has certainly started to grow on me in terms of cinema. It's rare for me to review a series, and believe I have only done so one or two times before. But with my recent love for Irish indies, I didn't want to pass up on this webseries even though its main plot isn't exactly up my alley (this goes for crime movies in general). At the time of this review only four episodes are available, and thus I base my opinion on those four (which are available to watch for free from their website - scroll down for the link).
With a large dose of comedy, frequent references and what seems like a love for Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino, "Head Shop Men" goes straight into its bizarre and crazy world of drugs and shady business. The first episode works well as an introduction to both style and characters, which I welcome with open arms. It's a mouthful to get through on that aspect alone. We're introduced to Dono, who is struggling in a U2 tribute band called "U3". As their drummer died, things are just not looking good for the band. So Dono and his friend Cormac become involved in the world of selling drugs when they start working in a head shop in Dublin.
In these four episodes the filmmakers are developing their style which is quite hard to take in at times. It shines with intentionally cheesy lines, broad characters and sometimes simply illogical plot points, yet there's a sense of drama to be found as well. Though the drama is often swept under the rug the moment some characters open their mouths. It's not easy to get fully into this for me, as a Swede, not only because of the heavy Irish accents, but because some characters are talking faster than the speed of light - and some are literally just mumbling. This, while also being an independent production which doesn't always have the sharpest audio, made it a challenge to watch at times. On a purely technical level, I mean. To also add that I'm not a great fan of Guy Ritchie, Tarantino, and similar smart-assed crime flicks.
Take that aside, if those are in fact your cup of tea, I think that it might still take at least two episodes to get into it - and get what they're aiming for. Both episode 3 and 4 get you more invested, treat you with more intriguing plots, and manage to show our two lead character's strengths for real. They managed to get into actual problems, not just personal issues, which could put them in danger (and does) and a believable duo that made sense was finally born.
The right audience of "Head Shop Men" - being those who enjoy similar cinema, can accept its independent production flaws, and enjoy this kind of over-the-top comedy (like the cop who lost his moustache and misses it so much that he wears a fake one) - will hopefully discover this webseries. I do suggest most people go and give the first episode a shot, if it's your cup of tea then you can watch the rest and wait for episode 5. If not, then you haven't wasted that much time and can go on with your day. Personally I wanted to like the show, but it seemed like its style and purpose flew over my head at times. It just didn't get me fully into it. The production it self was fine, there are obviously flaws but for the most part it's nothing we haven't experienced before in indie productions, the soundtrack was one of the highlights, it was made from genuine love. But I could not get into the comedy (except for a few jokes) and was generally grasping for straws to find an intrigue that would interest me. I have a very hard time getting into TV shows as it is, so this didn't help. At the very least, "Head Shop Men" is quite peculiar. The style was familiar but still different enough to throw you in for a ride. Some will enjoy it, some won't - but best of all, it's completely free to watch so it's up to you to give it the chance.