What it's about:
David Ghantt is a simple man stuck in a monotonous life. Every day, he drives an armoured car, transporting millions, with no escape from his humdrum existence in sight. The only bit of excitement is his crush, who lures him into the scheme of a lifetime. Along with a group of dimwitted criminals and a flawed heist plan, David manages the impossible and makes off with $17m. When he foolishly hands the money over to this group of double-crossers and is set up to take the fall, the bandits blow millions on ridiculous luxuries and leave behind a glaring trail of evidence. In over his head, David must dodge the authorities, evade a hit man, and turn the tables on the ones he trusted.
What we thought:
It’s sad to see the creator of cult classic Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre Jared Hess be attached to such a dumb movie. The stupidity from his other work had a certain campy glow to it that was amplified by adorable characters.
Masterminds, though based on one of the USA’s biggest cash heists ever, had no real loveable characters and lacked finesse in their idiocy. Granted it did land some jokes that forced a laugh or three, but the one-liners couldn’t redeem the whole movie’s flawed execution.
David Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis), an armoured truck driver, is set to be married until his work crush (Kristen Wiig) approaches him with a scheme to steal the money his company looks after. Seduced, he takes the bait, pulls off the massive heist and heads to Mexico. While waiting for the heat to die off, his accomplice (Owen Wilson) plots to have him killed.
Masterminds is one of those films you’ll watch, have a chuckle and then forget about almost instantly. Overacting, mistiming of jokes and lack of chemistry between the actors made for a boring film that completely abused the skills of Kate McKinnon, who plays David’s fiancé. She landed her queues like a boss and the engagement photoshoot with Galifianakis is the best part of the whole movie, culminating in the best of 90s awkward portrait photos.
Jason Sudeikis also had some golden moments, as the hitman tasked to kill off David, but unfortunately both were too little on the screen to help the movie from comedic hell.
Produced by a studio that is trying to recover from bankruptcy, Masterminds is an odd one to greenlight. This is more a direct-to-TV movie that you glance over while flipping through channels, not a movie that could potentially save a studio. Sure Hess had some winners under his belt, but he at least wrote his winners – in this case it was a group of novice writers which included a seasoned Saturday Night Live writer. None of them had experience writing a feature comedy, and although SNL is comedy gold, the format almost never translates too well with long form movies. The money went more into ‘big name’ cast instead of spending the little money they had on some proper writers, and it’ll bite them in the ass.
Galifianakis has never been one of my favourite comedy actors and he always comes off as forcing himself onto the audience. His ability to make everyone around him awkward has gotten him a name in Hollywood at least, but to me he’s not that interesting. In this movie there was some potential for him to do something a little different, but the writing definitely left him down. His accent and hair were on point though.
Masterminds is not worth the expensive cinema ticket, with gag comedy that’s only really funny to teenagers. Campy 90s nostalgia and horrible fashion cannot hide the lacklustre performances from its main cast and its attempts take skits and string them together to make a movie just for the sake of it. If only you could cut out all McKinnon and Sudeikis’s scenes and bask in their awesome.
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