Similar to this week's biographical disaster thriller, "Deepwater Horizon", "Masterminds" is surprisingly also inspired by a true story, yet these films couldn't be any different. On one hand, you have an emotional, shocking, well-directed and casted depiction of a tragic event in "Deepwater Horizon", and on the other, you've got a hit and miss, over the top, comedy-driven mess that almost feels like a piece from Saturday Night Live. While there is likely a very small viewing population that will find this film enjoyable, I honestly had a hard time not leaving the theater during my screening of "Masterminds".
Directed by Jared Hess ("Napoleon Dynamite", "Nacho Libre") and starring Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Jason Sudeikis, "Masterminds" involves an armored car driver (Galifianakis) who pulls off one of the biggest heists in American history, stealing $17 million with the help of his work crush, Kelly Campbell (Wiig), and her half witted friends, led by Steve Chambers (Wilson). After Kelly is fired from Loomis Fargo, a cash handling company, Steve pressures her to convince her coworker, David Ghantt (Galifianakis), to use his position to help them rob the place.
Using a halfcocked, semi-ridiculous plan, David is able to steal all the money the company holds in their warehouse, but is forced to flee the country to avoid capture after destroying all but one video camera that clearly shows him committing the crime. Hoping Kelly will eventually join him in paradise, David hands over all the money to Steve, who ultimately gives David's location to the police to collect a reward and keep the heat off himself. While on the run, David must figure out what went wrong, find a way to get back to Kelly and take revenge on Steve, without being caught by the police.
While the film is way below average in my eyes, Galifianakis appears to go all in on his character. Taking place in the Southern U.S., David Ghantt is a longhaired, dimwitted, oddly dressed country boy who lives in a trailer. Constantly making mistakes, running into objects, and even firing a pistol down the back of his shorts, David is not very bright. Living a life of dull repetition and engaged to a woman he doesn't seem very interested in (McKinnon), David experiences few thrills, so when Kelly comes calling about the robbery, he agrees with little protest.
Wiig also plays a fairly simple-minded country girl, who at first goes along with Steve's plan but feels bad about betraying David. Steve, who believes he's smarter than he really is, takes all the money and after a little hesitation at first, begins lavishly buying everything from nice clothes, to a mansion, cars, etc. Steve originally gives David a fake name, but after turning David into the police and finding out David knows Steve's real identity, he sends an eccentric hit man to kill David. Sudeikis plays the hit man and in an odd string of events, ends up befriending and assisting David. McKinnon plays David's fiancé, and while I thought she did a solid job in the new "Ghostbusters" film, she reverts back to her over the top SNL type performance. Jones is about the most normal character in the film, playing a detective, and a few other recognizable actors include Mary Elizabeth Ellis ("It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia") and Ken Marino.
Even though I wasn't a fan of this film and found very little of its material funny, a good portion of the audience in my screening were laughing hysterically throughout. I'll admit there are definitely a few genuine laugh out loud moments, but most of these come from over the top, absurd jokes and slapstick style humor. I've long found Galifianakis to be entertaining, and between him, Wiig, Sudeikis and a few others who have their moments, there is some borderline quality humor, but very little in my eyes. It's the kind of film that I would call hit and miss or inconsistently funny, but there are way more misses than hits in my opinion. Something like Galifianakis shooting himself from behind, locking himself in the back of an armored van, crashing through a door or a handful of other material is meant to be funny, but just comes off as stupid more times than not.
There's very little that's not exaggerated, ridiculous content, and it frankly gets old real quick. With a little stronger of a script and possibly some better, smarter material and jokes, this film could've been worth seeing, but as it stands it feels like a wasted opportunity for everyone involved. It's very interesting to me that films based on true events can be so very different in which direction they take, be it a heartfelt action thriller or an over the top comedy film, but I guess that's the beauty of film and its ability to deliver a variety of genres for different types of viewers.
If you've seen the previews and truly believe you'll enjoy this film, then by all means check it out, but for extreme movie enthusiasts like myself who prefers something a bit more well-rounded, your probably better off staying away from this film. If you're looking for an above average movie to see this weekend, look into "Deepwater Horizon" instead.
"Masterminds" is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, some language and violence. Running time is 1 hour and 34 minutes.
Rated 1 out of 5 stars.