We gave it a B+
Unlike the film based on it, Roddy Doyle’s first novel, The Commitments, had a lot more to it than the story of a group of Irish teens who form a soul band. Doyle used music as a torch by which the working-class youth of his tradition-bound nation sought a different cultural identity. This time, he examines the lives of the preceding generation. Sparkling with the same earthy humor as The Commitments, The Van centers on a dilapidated fish-and-chips truck that rescues two old chums from unemployment. Told in slangy dialect, the commendably uncinematic story touches on family, friendship, and soccer, documenting a mundane world with fervent humanity.