Masterminds (Film Review)

Let’s be honest. This is one of those SNL casting heist featuring that anti-hero with an unpronounceable name – Zach Galifianakis. With that out of the way, and in the great tradition of other awkward leading men before him such as Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and Steve Carell, the hirsute Galifianakis drives this comedic vehicle through multiple misadventures, based on an actual 1997 Loomis Fargo robbery that happened in North Carolina.

Galifianakis is David Ghantt, an armored car driver for Loomis Fargo. How he got his job, we’ll never know. He’s bumbling, naive, and hardly intimidating. All is well, until his latest female co-worker crush Kelly Campbell (Kristen Wiig) decides to rope him in, under direction by her friend, Steve Chambers (Owen Wilson), to commit America’s second largest cash robbery of $17M.

David manages to pull this off, pirouette and all, before passing on the loot to his two accomplices, seduced by the rich life with his new-found love, Kelly. Armed with $20K, David escapes to Mexico with the promise to be joined by her and a monthly remittance from Steven to live out their romantic lives in Rio. But of course this was just a ruse.

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Steven, or “Geppetto” (ços he’s the puppet master, geddit?), never intended to hold up his promise and readily proceeds to throw David into the deep-end by getting the Interpol on him and for good measure, hiring hitman Mike McKinney (Jason Sudeikis) to finish him off. But we know these stories always have a happy ending, right? Director Jared Hess finishes it off with an explosive showdown at Steven’s gaudy mansion.

The comedic ensemble prepares you for a low-brow caricature, replete with fart jokes, slapstick fights and inane reasoning. Maybe because the original crime got that much attention for the fact that the perpetrators were regarded as “hillbillies”, the play-acting of the cast keeps things base.

Not that there’s no moments of clever stupidity (if you’re aware of that oxymoron, there’s tons in the movie). In one scene, David culturally applies himself to his Mexican friend at the bank when he attempts to withdraw his money. “Pour fay-ver,” he enunciates in earnest. In another, as he disguises himself for exit from the country, he shows up as an interdimensional white Nicki Minaj – cat’s eye and all – where he gets paused by a scrutinizing guard… before letting him through.

The highlight has got to be one early scene, where the expert Kate McKinnon plays up Jandice, David’s manic and repressed fiancee. As the betrothed couple pose for their wedding photos, it’s shot after shot of pure hilarity.

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Wiig in comparison seems a little lost compared to McKinnon. Her role as the kind-hearted seductress has tones of Jennifer Aniston – yet without the goofy charm. As per one scene where she gets bulldozed by Galifianakis, her Kelly seems to serve as a character for him to land his punches. Sudeikis’s over-dramatic hitman had a promising start, but also falters at the end after revealing his soft spot. Wilson’s role also floats by, a rather nonchalant villain, that deserved more bravado.

That said, the movie is still a breezy, cheesy delight to watch. It’s got smatterings of true wit amidst the heavy dousing of body jokes, but sometimes, we just need to let out both a fart and guffaw. Throw out your minds for the plot, enjoy the whirlwind spin and brush up on your Mexican, gringo.

Rating: 3 1/2*

A true life heist gets overshadowed by flippant slapstick jokes and base humour. Bits of wit keep this ride a jaunty one so buckle up!

The film is currently showing at all major cinemas.

First published: www.moviexclusive.com 

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