Irish Wish review – Lindsay Lohan’s luck runs out in charmless romcom

<span>Ed Speleers and Lindsay Lohan in Irish Wish.</span><span>Photograph: Netflix</span>
Ed Speleers and Lindsay Lohan in Irish Wish.Photograph: Netflix

The curse of auburn-haired American women heading to Ireland for terrible magic-themed romcoms continues, 14 years after Amy Adams took an unfortunate vacation in the detestable Leap Year (a film that even her co-star Matthew Goode generously referred to as “turgid” within weeks of its release). There’s less at stake here – Adams was a two-time Oscar nominee leading her first romantic comedy – but we’re left in a similarly unremarkable place, a persuasive tourism ad masquerading as a real movie.

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That might have sounded like a big enough get for star Lindsay Lohan a few years ago, when she was still trying to break her way out of Hollywood jail. A mixture of bad film choices, bad life decisions and bad behaviour left her an uninsurable pariah, even if she had also been the victim of an industry that made it almost impossible for her to emerge from her teenage years unscathed. But 2022 allowed her a foot back in the door, thanks to Netflix’s nostalgia lust with the junky festive romcom Falling for Christmas. It was as disposable as the streamer’s many, many, many other seasonal offerings but it was a major win for Lohan, her first lead in almost a decade and reportedly the most watched new Christmas movie that year.

It should have been enough to level her up, away from dross that she would have turned her nose up at in her prime but instead, she’s back again for a second go in Irish Wish, a film even blander and more boring than the last. The anonymity of her last Netflix romcom was perhaps more forgivable because of the season, when a great number of otherwise unacceptably shoddy films are given a mild pass because of the festive spirit. But without scene after scene drenched in eye-catching reds and greens and without a soundtrack of sub-Kelly Clarkson Christmas covers blaring, we’re forced to focus on the things they really shouldn’t want us to be focusing on.

The release of Irish Wish might be loosely pegged to St Patrick’s Day but apart from the scenery, it’s as Irish as a box of Lucky Charms and just as teeth-rottingly sweet. Lohan, at least scoring a nice holiday out of it all, is Maddie, a book editor madly in love with her big Irish author (Alexander Vlahos) but too afraid to tell him. In a tinny, red-flags-burning-everywhere kinda opener, we find out that she is a) adorkably clumsy, b) living in a cheap approximation of New York, c) the daughter of Jane Seymour’s school principal living in Ohio, d) honest about her feelings to her mum but weirdly not to her friends and e) just introducing her friends to the author. This then allows for a 27 Dresses-style disaster where a friend falls for him instead and we cut to Lohan travelling to Ireland for the wedding. She meets a handsome Englishman along the way (Ed Speleers) whom she hates for no real reason before she makes a wish on some old stone to become the real bride, made true by a magical Irish woman.

If that didn’t clue you into exactly where we’re at with Irish Wish, then maybe you should also know that the film starts with an on-screen definition of what a wish is for those who weren’t sure. The film could perhaps also do with a definition of what Irish is, with Lohan’s main love interest an English guy; her Irish object of affection – played by a Welsh actor – pushed as the UK’s biggest author yet coming from the Republic of Ireland; and the local pub, filled with locals doing the jig, trumpeted as selling “the best fish and chips in Ireland”. Lohan does drink a Guinness, though, and marvel at the local vistas, which are admittedly the best thing the film has to offer.

There is of course more here to remind us of Lohan’s unwavering charm but that’s not quite enough to distract from just how tired and limply written the whole thing is and how depressing it is to watch her still stuck here. Hasn’t she deserved at least one of the streamer’s classier romcoms by now, like last month’s better-than-usual Players? When the film briefly shows some vague awareness of the psychopathy of the premise and her character, a far more entertaining thought of her embodying a sort of Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding-type antihero crosses the mind, an edge we crave while watching something so aggressively mundane.

Netflix has specialised in the kind of anodyne content that can be popped on in the background while some ironing is done, unlikely to ever distract from the key task at hand. It’s what we expect from them at this stage but it’s not what we wish for Lohan, an actor back on the ladder who deserves to climb a lot higher than this.

  • Irish Wish is now available on Netflix