Directed by Jared Hess.
Starring Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Jason Sudeikis.
A night guard at an armored car company in the Southern U.S. organizes one of the biggest bank heists in American history.
Masterminds was originally set to release in August of last year, but those plans fell through due to a bankruptcy within the film’s distributor, although honestly the fact that the movie is now releasing in the month of September a little over a year later might actually benefit its box office performance, as the movie actually co-stars 3/4 of the Ghostbusters reboot (Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones). And trust me, this movie is going to need all the help it can get to be a success, especially on a weekend with four other movies coming out.
This will probably surprise you considering the absurd jokes found in the trailers, but Masterminds is actually based on a true story centering on an inside job vault robbery of $17 million that took place in 1997, and the even crazier aftermath of what came to be known as ‘The Hillbilly Heist’. Obviously, what we have here is a very exaggerated and overly comical rendition of those events under the direction of Jared Hess (most known for the cult classic Napoleon Dynamite and also to an extent Nacho Libre). Keep in mind it’s the kind of exaggeration that sees Zach Galifianakis turning a public swimming pool brown after eating a Super Taco somewhere from a local stand in Mexico. With jokes like that, how can this movie possibly be a failure?
Getting straight to the point, I am certain I had more fun reading about what actually happened than watching the entirety of this movie. It is true that the real life David (Zach Galifianakis) was a bit of a dummy that robbed all of the money under the impression that it was for his girlfriend (Kristen Wiig) when in actuality he was handing the money over to even dumber people that immediately made a number of expensive and exotic purchases that surely raised suspicion, but pretty much all of what is going on here is blown up far too stupid. There is no restraint here to make anything regarding the situation feel plausible in an intelligently comedic way.
The one thing that Masterminds does have going for it however are a number of committed performances to the madness and shenanigans. Remember how Kate McKinnon kept making all of those obnoxious faces at unwarranted moments and was basically a distraction throughout all of Ghostbusters? Well when she does that here as an inexplicably stone cold bitch fiance to David, it actually works and comes across as humorous. She even gets to have a fight with Kristen Wiig that most certainly is ridiculous and has a memorable ending.
Leslie Jones (also worth pointing out as the only actually funny lady in the Ghostbusters reboot) also receives some fairly funny lines as an FBI agent tracking the stolen money. Jason Sudeikis also plays a bumbling fool of an assassin that has some dialogue and scenes so stupid they might actually be funny. I am pretty sure that was the entire tone the movie was going for, but it pretty much falls flat unless the characters are putting on ridiculous costumes.
Of all the actors to feel most bad for in this unfortunate situation of a trainwreck, it is poor Zach Galifianakis to feel for most, as he is probably sitting somewhere right now saying to himself “2 years ago I was transitioning into bigger and better work like Birdman, yet here I am now stuck in a role that doesn’t allow me to show even one-tenth of the comedic talents The Hangover did”. Actually, that seems to be what his eyes are saying if you stare into them long enough while he delivers painfully unfunny dialogue.
Admittedly a few of the jokes are funny (the heist itself has a pretty creative slapstick humor gag), but for the most part Masterminds is the annoying kind of lowbrow humor, which is frustrating because the real story is certainly ludicrous enough to make a madcap caper film out of that is filled with wit alongside dumb fun. Masterminds should have been presented in the same vein as something like Seven Psychopaths… now that would have been interesting to witness.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★