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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
  • None
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Featurette
  • Animated menus
  • Behind the scenes footage

On the Nose (Rental)

Madman Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 104 mins . M15+ . PAL


The specimen porters at the Dublin College of Medicine have always liked a bit of a flutter on the horses, but now their winning streak has reached an astounding six in a row; their success due largely to the tipping prowess of their friend Bobby. An Australian aboriginal in their keeping, poor old Bobby has been dead for over two centuries; and yet his mortal remains - a disembodied head in a jar - turn mysteriously to indicate his picks for the day's colour carnival.

Organising the local tipping pool is the discoverer of Bobby’s gift; a porter and semi-reformed gambling addict named Brendan Delaney (Robbie Coltrane). Brendan's life is in the toilet after years of throwing his family’s future away at the bookies and now, to make matters worse, his daughter Sinead has just been accepted at Dublin’s prestigious (and expensive) Trinity College. Of course Brendan gambled away her college fund along with the rest of his family's savings. Caught between what he sees as his only option to salvage his life, and stirring up old wounds with his long-suffering wife (Brenda Blethyn), Bobby’s tentative utilisation of Bobby’s talent slowly starts to bear him monetary fruit.

However, his co-workers are not quite as discrete, and soon the tipping pool's winning streak is brought to the attention of Brendan's boss (Dan Aykroyd), and a mob of local gangsters; both intent on gaining a slice of the action. To make matters worse, a representative of the Australian Department of Cultural Affairs (Tony Briggs) has arrived in Dublin to repatriate Bobby back to his homeland. If only Brendan can hold them all off until the Grand National, he may just be able to get that win he's been praying for..

Much like recent Australian comedies, the Irish have a knack for producing hilariously wry, character-based comedies that are drawn from a largely blue-collar national identity. Unfortunately, whilst its characters and plot lines are indeed in the same vein, On the Nose lacks the magic that has made other Irish comedies such as The Snapper so special.

A rather leisurely paced comedy, On the Nose is too light on gags, and meanders directionless towards a predictable climax. Most of the intended laughs generate little more than a smile, and the film’s lack of cultural sensitivity had me cringing on more than one occasion. Of a largely lack-lustre cast, Robbie Coltrane is certainly a jewel in the rough, but even he struggles with the underdeveloped script. Talented actress Brenda Blethyn does her best with what she is given (which is little), and Dan Aykroyd is closer to his pathetic turn in Evolution than Grosse Pointe Blank. Overall, despite improving in the last 20 minutes, On the Nose disappoints; lacking the laughs, the momentum, and the character development to keep an audience interested.


Madman’s reputation for quality MPEG transfers continues with their release of On the Nose; serving up a perfect digital rendition of the source material. Presented at the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the anamorphic transfer is sharp with deep blacks, at times vivid colours, and perfect flesh tones. Whilst sharp, the image doesn’t suffer from noticeable aliasing or moirè, and the level of detail is good in both well-lit and lowly-lit scenes; important given the film’s key location is a dim and aging campus basement. Indeed, the level of detail to be seen in poor Robert’s severed head, with its whispy beard showing through the semi-transparent alcohol solution, is impressive to say the least.

At times detail is reduced by a small amount of film grain that crops up in the source material, but other than that the print that has been used for the transfer is in wonderful condition and appears to be crystal clean. So too, the transfer is completely void of compression artefacts – as I said, a perfect job by Madman. The only negative is a rather clunky layer change that appears to be clumsily placed one second into a scene change, but there’s really nothing on the nose about what we’ve been served up here.


In terms of audio, On the Nose provides a serviceable Dolby Digital surround mix that is in keeping with the film’s pedigree and genre. Being a wordy comedy devoid of even a perfunctory car chase scene, there are no impressive sound effects to be heard. And yet, thankfully, dialogue is clear and distinct throughout. While some channel separation is used across the front of the soundstage to direct foley effects, the majority of the sound emanates from the centre channel. The exception is when the score kicks in – a bunch of jumping ska tracks that blast from the front speakers to enhance the more emotive portions of the plot. It is at these times that the surround channel gets a chance to shine, with these tracks mixed nicely to the rear. Unfortunately, the LFE channel doesn’t get a chance to bark.


Nicely animated, anamorphic menus provide access to a small number of extras. The majority are pretty forgettable, but the one that may have proved interesting seems to have been mastered incorrectly.

  • Featurette: Unfortunately, the link to this extra simply starts the film itself, and with the DVD 'title' button disabled, it's impossible to find the featurette manually. Hopefully this will be fixed in the sell-through release.

  • Behind the Scenes - Dan Aykroyd Phone Call: (1:10) a short sequence showing the preparation, rehearsals and a single take of a single shot involving Dan Aykroyd on the phone. Not long enough to hold any interest at all.

  • Behind the Scenes - Chase Sequence: (1:13) Similarly we have another short sequence showing the preparation and two shots being filmed for the foot-chase through the backstreets of Dublin. Again too short to be of any real interest.

  • Trailer: (2:03) full-frame and with a reasonable transfer.

  • Madman Propaganda: Trailers for six current and upcoming Madman releases Monsoon Wedding, All Over the Guy, No Man's Land, Molokai, Lumumba and The Closet


There's no doubt that On the Nose generated a few smirks around our lounge room, but with Robbie Coltrane’s name above the title, frankly I expected a few more laughs. However, if you are a fan of Irish or British comedy, and if you are easily amused, then On the Nose may well be worth the cost of a rental. Certainly, Madman's audio and video presentation will present no impediment to your enjoyment.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1757
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      And I quote...
    "Far too light on gags and meandering towards a predictable climax, On the Nose lacks the magic that has made other Irish comedies such as The Snapper so special."
    - Gavin Turner
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Toshiba SD-2108
    • TV:
          Panasonic TC-68P90A TAU (80cm)
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Speakers:
          B&W 602
    • Centre Speaker:
          B&W CC6 S2
    • Surrounds:
          JM Lab Cobalt SR20
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-500
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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