“Everyone has a dog!”
There are many examples of fools that Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers could be singing about when their “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” plays during Boogaloo and Graham. It could be Mom (Charlene McKenna) and Dad (Martin McCann) still in love after years together amidst an ongoing military state in Ireland during the 70s. Perhaps the song is about their sons Jamesy (Riley Hamilton) and Malachy (Aaron Lynch) quickly becoming inseparable from the titular pet chickens their father brought home one day from the farm where he works. Or, if a chick does in fact prove to be a hen, it might be the birds themselves desperately attempting to stave off a mother’s desire to see them cooked for dinner by laying an egg.
With love comes compromise and that’s probably the most prevalent message coming across from director Michael Lennox and writer Ronan Blaney‘s film. There’s the compromise Mom makes to allow the kids pets—warm lives breathing in their hands while the world outside home’s constraints is populated by armed soldiers. The compromise the children must confront when big news is announced that entails a necessity to keep the house clean and less crowded than before. And ultimately the compromise of convenience for the type of joy no parent can willingly take away from his/her sons. Through these chickens, Jamesy and Malachy learn the ups and downs of life, the concept of mortality, and an analogy for the changes happening under their roof.
While that sounds overly sentimental—and it is—the filmmakers also find a way to infuse the perfect amount of humor with a crucial moment of danger to boot. The two boys are both more prone to outbursts of emotion courtesy of lewd comments than a sense of humility or acquiescence and they’ll do anything for their birds, even if it means running away during thinto the darkness of night. Just as they do, however, Dad can’t help doing the same for the two souls under his care. What’s a touching depiction of love’s bond and mankind’s inability to remove it for more objectively pragmatic results becomes a time-capsuled metaphor about the lengths we’ll go to keep our own safe. Ireland its people, parents their kids, and children their pets.