I first heard about The Matchmaker (1997) during an HBO comedy special Janeane Garofalo did not long after she’d finished filming it. She was talking about her time in Ireland during production, and I was so entertained by her stories that I made a mental note to seek out the movie when it was released. I never managed to spot it in theaters — it might not have even been released in my city — but I did find it at my local Blockbuster after it came out on video. I rented it, and I was pleasantly surprised, because it’s a pretty damn good movie.
I’ve always been a fan of Garofalo, but sometimes she misses the mark in her film roles. If you watch her stand-up, she’ll be the first to make fun of her performances in films like The Truth About Cats and Dogs (1996), but I think The Matchmaker is one she can be proud of. The role is perfect for her, and the chemistry between her and the rest of the cast, which includes Denis Leary, Milo O’Shea, Jay O. Sanders, David O’Hara, and Saffron Burrows, is fantastic. As the tagline says, it’s “a comedy for the incurably unromantic,” which is something I definitely identify with.
Garofalo plays Marcy, an assistant to an American senator from Boston (Sanders) who’s having major problems with his reelection campaign. He sends her to Ireland to seek out his kin, hoping he can rope in the Irish-American vote and save the campaign.
When Marcy arrives in the small village of Ballinagra, she finds herself in the middle of a matchmaking festival, much to her chagrin. Of course, since she’s a cute, young, single American, she immediately attracts the attention of not only a slew of local bachelors but also two local matchmakers, who make a bet as to who can fix her up with Sean (O’Hara), a journalist-turned-bartender at a popular local inn. As Marcy struggles to track down just one of the senator’s relatives, she finds herself becoming charmed by the Irish town and its residents — and falling in love with Sean.
It’s a given that since The Matchmaker is set in Ireland, the soundtrack is full of Irish music. Van Morrison & the Chieftains, Shane MacGowan, Sinead O’Connor, and the Waterboys all make appearances, alongside some traditional Irish folk. I managed to find most of the songs featured in the film, but there are some I wasn’t able to track down, including “Sad the Girl” by Equation. Many of the traditional tunes were sung by actors in a scene set at a pub, so the versions I’m giving you aren’t what appear in the film — but I figured something was better than nothing.
I know this is a short Soundtrack Saturday this week, but I hope you’ll pour a pint of Guinness, relax, and enjoy.
Shane MacGowan & the Popes – Rock ‘n’ Roll Paddy
The Waterboys – And a Bang on the Ear
Space – Female of the Species
World Party – She’s the One
The Waterboys – Fields of Athenry (Live)
Shane MacGowan and Sinead O’Connor – Haunted
Three Irish Tenors – Danny Boy
Fair Isle Folk – Raglan Road
Van Morrison & the Chieftains – Irish Heartbeat