Thursday, November 24, 2016

Masterminds Is Marginally Amusing.

The Good: Some funny lines, One or two moments of performance
The Bad: Lousy characters, Not overly original plot, A number of the jokes do not land.
The Basics: Masterminds is a funny-enough movie that might be worth watching once, but it does not have any enduring qualities to it.

When it comes to comedy, there are few works I tend to feel I missed and actually want to go back for. Masterminds was one of them, which I probably missed because right around the time it hit theaters, another Zack Galifianakis action comedy was released and being heavily promoted. As part of my post-Thanksgiving celebration, I decided to do a little crime comedy film festival to catch up and Masterminds was the first movie on the docket.

Masterminds is not an incredible film by any means, but it does have a couple moments that are laugh-out-loud funny.

David Ghantt is a Loomis Fargo armored car driver who dreams of adventure when Kelly Campbell is hired to work with him. Kelly suggests that she and David rob one of their armored cars carrying a million dollars. David is engaged to Jandice, who has accepted David as a consolation prize after the man she loved was killed by a snake bite. When Kelly gets fired, she begins hanging out with Steve, a petty criminal who wants to use her to steal a Loomis Fargo truck. Steve uses Kelly to get to David to steal from Loomis Fargo.

After Kelly manipulates David into robbing Loomis Fargo, David flees to Mexico with $20,000 from Kelly. David knocks out most (but not all) of the video cameras during the heist and that allows the FBI to easily figure out that David is guilty and begin a manhunt for him. While David lays low in Mexico, Kelly, Steve, and his crew begins spending the $17 million. When Steve decides to collect the $3 million bounty from the FBI on David, he decides to turn him in, despite Kelly's protestations. With David on the run from the Mexican police, he discovers Steve's i.d. in the wallet he was given and Steve hires an assassin to track down and kill David. Learning the truth about Kelly, David starts to stand up for himself and take back what is his.

Masterminds has some amusing lines, most of which are delivered by Zach Galifianakis and Kate McKinnon. McKinnon is delivers the bulk of her lines with a cold monotone deadpan that is unsettling and very funny. McKinnon makes creepy into an art form as Jandice and she has a way of freaking the viewer out by staring directly at the camera and remaining perfectly still otherwise.

Galifianakis plays to his wheelhouse with his physical performance. David trips all over and is incredibly awkward in the way that Zach Galifianakis has played in many other movies. There is nothing overly new in Galifianakis's portrayal of David. In fact, some of the incidents in Masterminds play to Galifiankis's sense of physical performance without having any real connection to the rest of the film - most notably the attack on David by a moray eel and the rather gross poop joke that inevitably follows David drinking water for the first time in Mexico. Similarly, Jandice's Vagaway endorsement stands out as if it were a faux-commercial on Saturday Night Live.

Kristen Wiig is good as a tease as Kelly. She performs well as a flirt who is manipulating Galifianakis's David. Wiig plays the role of a criminal remarkably straightlaced and there are moments where she plays Kelly as clearly thinking about how to manipulate David and with a simple eye movement, she conveys the wheels turning in her character's mind. Jason Sudeikis might be the best performer in Masterminds as his assassin character, Mike, is nothing at all like his Mitt Romney persona from Saturday Night Live.

Masterminds is marginally amusing in a "watch it once and forget about it" kind of way. While there are moments of enjoyment to be had in it, there are no superlative aspects to the film.

For other crime comedies, please check out my reviews of:
The Bounty Hunter
A Bag Of Hammers
We're The Millers


For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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