Picks and Pans Review: The Van
A dissatisfied customer hastens back to the takeout window of the van from which he just bought an order of fish and chips. Holding up a sodden, fried white mass, he demands to know exactly what he has bitten into. It's something fishy, all right, but not fish. The offending delicacy is a disposable diaper belonging to the grandson of Meaney, one of the van's two operators. "Is it a used one?" Meaney affably asks the sputtering customer. "No? Then it's all right."
Life, however messy, is for getting on with. That's the message in The Van, a genial little character study about two unemployed, middle-aged Irishmen who become business partners, dishing out fish, chips and burgers from the back of a ramshackle van. The partnership soon puts their longtime friendship at risk and tries the patience of their saintly wives. Based on a novel by Irish writer Roddy Doyle, the movie features skilled comic performances by Meaney (TV's Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and Irish stage actor O'Kelly and is affectionately directed by Englishman Stephen Frears (who also oversaw Doyle's The Snapper). In its own unassuming, men-behaving-daftly way, Van delivers. (R)