Monday, October 24, 2016

Masterminds (2016)

Here's one that's full of familiar faces and usual suspects of today's comedy, starting with three-fourths of the Ghostbusters headliners redistributed into smaller parts. Well, actually, Kristen Wiig has another starring role, as a love temptress for bank armored vehicle driver David Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis). Owen Wilson plays Steve, who more or less orchestrates the bumbling heist at the center of the story. They are all morons, yet nonetheless net $17 million in the haul—still a record (because, you see, this movie is "based on true events"). But even as the betrayals start and drive the plot the rest of the way, the crime is mostly beside the point. This is just about jokes and carrying on. It's always juvenile and sometimes funny. It can't help but be a little funny, with all the talent assembled. Unfortunately, it is only a little funny. Galifianakis is likable as a gullible idiot with a Prince Valiant haircut, playing it low-key and wide-eyed, genially working the situations. Ghantt is cuckoo for Kelly (Wiig) but he's also engaged to be married to Jandice, played by Kate McKinnon in her typical galactically disconnected style. She's pretty good here as a steely small town ice goddess, but not as funny as I've seen her elsewhere, such as Ghostbusters or as Hillary Clinton on Saturday Night Live. Wiig is solid as always—a likable presence, but not given enough to do. Jason Sudeikis, another player from SNL, has a few good moments as a strange hit man, Mike McKinney, who develops a soft spot for Ghantt, and possibly a hard one too, though that's never quite clear. A lot of things in this movie are never quite clear. It's set in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1997, where the robbery happened. But it's used more as an opportunity to make fun of the South, the way they talk, for example, and the presumption they are stupid if they are poor and that their brand of lumbering stupidity is funny. These are easy targets and only go over so far. After a while, lampooning hicks and rubes starts to look like the work of underachievers cutting corners. Which is kind of what happens here. I like a lot of the cast but I know they can do better.

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