Four friends on a community service program hatch a plan to get themselves out of financial difficulty in this comedy drama from director Ken Loach. The film begins with a hilarious scenes of a drunken man at a train station being told over the speaker system to get away from the edge of the platform. Next thing he finds himself in the dock and is sentenced to do community payback work. Turning up on the wrong day he is conscripted, along with several of his fellows to repainting and old building. One of the young men he is working with is Robbie who has his own problems. With a girlfriend and baby on the way he also has to constantly avoid getting into fights with other Glasgow gangs, a life that he has been born into. Following a trip to a whisky distillery he develops an aptitude for recognizing whiskies from smell and taste. Learning that there is an incredibly rare and expensive cask due for auction Robbie and his new found friends decide to travel north to see if they can't profit from it.
The film has quite a few hilarious scenes with the incompetent Arnold (the drunk from the beginning) providing most of the laughs. As with Loach's other works there is also a social commentary aspect to proceedings. Robbie is shown to be someone who is trapped by circumstance into a cycle of violence that perpetuates each generation, while his friends are likewise in an endless circle of poverty and crime or alcoholism. The message of the film is that people are good at heart if they are given a chance and we see the random acts of kindness from strangers paying off throughout. It is great to see a film that is rooted in Scottishness yet free to poke fun at the culture too. The dialect of the main characters provide a believable backdrop to proceedings and it's fun to see the interplay between different social classes that Loach does well. I would highly recommend this film as a great comedy with warmth yet with serious political points underpinning it.