Movie ReviewsCriminally Dumb (Masterminds Review)

Keith NoakesOctober 1, 2016

David Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis) is stuck in the monotony of driving an armored truck day in and day out, so when his work crush, Kelly Campbell (Kristen Wiig), lures him into the heist of a lifetime, David’s all in. Despite a pack of harebrained bandits and an absurdly flawed plan, David manages to steal $17 million, and promptly hands it over to the gang, who just as promptly double-cross him. Forced to go on the lam in Mexico, David must dodge the authorities and a hit man Mike McKinney (Jason Sudeikis), and try to turn the tables on his untrustworthy comrades.

With a cast featuring the likes of Galifianakis, Wiig, Sudeikis, and Owen Wilson, just to name a few, this has the prospect of being a great comedy but a cast doesn’t always make a film. This was just another example of that with the last being Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. The reason I was particularly interested in this one was the cast but I just found myself disappointed. This film is definitely not for everyone due to its divisive nature. Either people will love it or hate it (I’m more the latter). This did not come as much of a surprise considering the film’s director, Jared Hess, was responsible for such divisive cult classic comedies as Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre.

The story here is about an armored truck driver named David Ghantt (Galifianakis) whose professional life has hit a rut. He gets bored of the monotony of his job and is in need of some excitement. He soon gets a chance once his crush Kelly Campbell (Wiig) manipulates him into robbing the company he works for. Of course he’s then double-crossed, forcing him to go to Mexico and then deal with a hitman named Mike McKinney (Sudeikis). Ghantt eventually finds a way to get back and exact his revenge on those who have double-crossed him, including the leader Steve Chambers (Wilson).

The success of the film depends on the likability of the characters. This is where the film’s divisiveness comes. Either they will come off as funny or annoying. The latter was more the case here. All of the characters just came off as stupid, over-ambitious, Southern caricatures. This made the majority of the film’s poorly-written comedy, based on these traits, not funny and often cringe-worthy. In addition, none of them were very likable, making it difficult to ever get invested in them.

The worst offender was Ghantt himself. Ghantt was a simple man which made it easy for Kelly to manipulate him since we was so stupid, he didn’t know what was going on. The film chose to overplay this simpleness by contrasting it with the regular world. This simply did not work due to reasons mentioned above. The film tried to make him sympathetic for having been taken advantage of and also Kelly, to a lesser extent, for having realized what she had done and wanting to make up for it but it almost didn’t matter.

The other characters were not much better with the best of those probably being McKinney who did have some kind of fun exchanges with Ghantt as they later bonded. The film also featured some other characters that were barely used and were funnier than the main characters. This included David’s fiance Jandice (Kate McKinnon) and FBI Special Agent Scanlon (Leslie Jones). Jandice was a crazy character who just worked for whatever reason and Agent Scanlon was kind of fun to watch but her investigation didn’t really go anywhere.

It’s hard to accurately judge the acting with the writing not being at the same level as the actors involved. Not that it was good or bad, that just depends on the opinion of whoever is watching. The best part of the film has to be the pre-credit bloopers. It’s kind of sad that the best part of a film came after it ends but that was the case here. Considering the comedic talent of everyone involved, there were sure to be some funny moments and a lot of them were on display. Ultimately if you saw any of the trailers, then you’ve pretty much already seen it anyway.

Overall, some will probably love this film but some will hate it. The latter was the case here as this was a disappointing, unfunny comedy thanks to bad writing that wasted the talents of all involved.

Score: 4/10

If you liked this, please read my other reviews here and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, follow me on Instagram, and like me on Facebook.



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