Review By: Dave Griffiths
It’s funny how a lot of critics look for the ‘art’ in the film, it’s like they sometimes forget that it’s okay to go into a cinema and just have a fun time watching a film. One such film is the brand new crime comedy (or should that be crime farce?). There is no art to Masterminds, no this is just a movie that you go into, have a good laugh and then repeat the funny lines at nausea to your friends on the way home.
Based on a true crime, one of America’s largest heists to be exact, Masterminds heads into redneck central as we see the kind hearted but oh so dumb David Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis – The Hangover) lured into doing an armoured car robbery because of his crush on the jaded Kelly (Kristen Wiig – Bridesmaids). What David doesn’t know that the man behind the scenes, the cunning Steve (Owen Wilson – Midnight In Paris) plans on taking a majority of the $17.3 million while leaving him out to dry in Mexico with the Police hot on his tails. When that doesn’t work the way he wants to Steve also has no trouble hiring hitman Mike McKinney (Jason Sudeikis – Horrible Bosses) to silence David forever.
With movies like Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre already under his belt the film world already knows that director Jared Hess doesn’t mind going over the top and then some and that’s a comedic style he once again repeats here. Lovers of pure crime may be a little put off by the comedy that is scattered throughout the film but on reflection this is probably the only way this movie could have been filmed. A quick look through the true story behind this crime and you’ll easily see that this is a comedic crime right for the picking.
Having said that though there are moments where Hess goes over the top. The film works best when Hess allows the comedic talents of Galifianakis and Wiig to flow in a natural way or when he allows Wilson to play the tough guy. The laughs dry up though and almost become groan worthy when Hess tries to force laughs like he does in many of the scenes featuring Sudeikis’ McKinney. As we have seen in many of his films over the years Sudeikis is a master when he is given a well written comedy screenplay but here is character just doesn’t lend itself to the comedic tone of the film.
To Hess’ credit though those that do not the full story of the crime at hand will find themselves not only laughing at this film but also worried about some of the main characters. Despite the crime he is involved in the character of David Ghantt is a lovable character and as an audience member you find yourself wanting him to succeed and even win over Kelly. Yes this is one of the most unlikeliest romances of the year but it is also one of the things that makes this such a charming film.
It is evident throughout Masterminds that the cast had a hell of a lot of fun making the fun. The Saturday Night Live connection and the Ghostbusters reunion of Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon (Finding Dory) and Leslie Jones (Trainwreck) means the cast are so familiar with each other that they work together like a well-oiled machine. McKinnon and Jones also steal a lot of the laughs throughout the film with some well-timed one liners. Owen Wilson also steps up his role and manages to find the right mix of comedy and intimidation throughout the film continuing the form he seems to have been in since Midnight In Paris.
The comedy of Masterminds is very similar to that surprising blend that made Bernie one of the hits of 2011, While the idea of a crime film with the over-the-top comedy may be a little off putting for some in the hands of Jared Hess Masterminds becomes a comedy full of memorable characters and provides a few laughs along the way.