A remake of the 1962 French film La Guerre des Boutons (which was based on a novel by Louis Pergaud), this is the simple and often fun tale of a series of skirmishes between boys of neighbouring Irish villages – the title coming from the keepsakes they take from the other child’s clothes when they win (which usually leads to an interesting conversation with their parents when they get home and have to explain where all their buttons are). The ‘war’ is between the kids of Ballydowse and the slightly wealthier ones who live in Carrickdowse across the bridge. The ‘Ballys’ are led by Fergus (Fitzgerald), a boy with problems at home, while the ‘Carricks’ have the self-assured strategist Geronimo (John Coffey) in charge.
It’s definitely a boy’s-own adventure as the two groups battle each other (once in the nude, providing the hilarious sight of them charging down the hill like a collection of rabid flashers), using catapults filled with mouldy fruit and scheduling their ‘fights’ between school and tea so their parents don’t find out. Unfortunately, because there’s not much else to the movie, even the cheekiest viewer enjoying the scraps may get bored before it’s over.
Is War Of The Buttons suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...