Review: Masterminds


By Christian DiMartino

Jared Hess’ Masterminds, believe it or not, is a film that was left on the shelf for a year. For some, that won’t come as a surprise, because there’s a good amount of hate for it. Typically, when this is the case, the movie sucks (see: SerenaCell, or better yet, don’t). But Masterminds ain’t all that bad.

I’ve often said that a film like this can go one of two ways: it’ll either be stupid, but inspired, or it’ll just be stupid. However, Masterminds is kind of split down the middle. Some of it is pretty funny, and some of it is just gross and stupid. In the end though, it’s pretty good fun, thanks mostly to the fact that every single character is an absolute moron, and they don’t even know it.

It tells a true story, but I’m not sure if I totally buy that. I feel like they had a concept, and they just added their own spin to it. Which is fine, I guess. Said story revolves around one of the biggest bank heists in American history. According to Hess, it went a little like this:

Zach Galifianakis plays David, a goofy, mulleted Loomis Fargo employee soon to be wed to a weirdo named Jandice (Kate McKinnon). If you’ve ever seen any of Hess’ other films (Napoleon Dynamite, Gentleman Broncos), it’s obvious that Jandice is a pure Hess creation. David’s life is turned upside down whenever he meets Kelly (Kristen Wiig), who, upon immediately meeting him, suggests that they should rob the place. He scoffs, but he has an immediate attraction to her, so she uses that to her advantage.

Enter Steve (Owen Wilson), a friend of Kelly’s. After she’s fired from Loomis Fargo, they hatch a scheme: David should rob Loomis Fargo, and then flee to Mexico, where they’ll promise him more money. Sounds like a terrible plan. David doesn’t even know Steve. There’s no saying he can be trusted. But due to Kelly’s seduction, David doesn’t even bat an eye. He goes through with it (pretty easily, might I add), and from then on, madness ensues.

About halfway through Masterminds, the fact that it’s a true story came back to me. How can that be? I have no idea. Because it’s all just so simple. A simple crime pulled off by simple people.

The actors are plenty game. Wilson never really gets a chance to shine, because he’s stuck in kind of a thankless role. Everyone else though is pretty good. I forgot to mention that they have Jason Sudeikis show up as an assassin, and this character alone pretty much summarizes every character: they all think they have something brilliant up their sleeves, but even when something seems like a good idea, it’s actually rather stupid. Proof that the title is used for irony sake.

Some of these laughs feel a little dated, or a little too stupid. Why must they always try to gross us out? Diarrhea and butthole hairs just aren’t funny to me. I know why it’s there. It’s there to shock. But they shouldn’t have tried. Consider a scene whenever Galifianakis munches down on a dead tarantula. Why is this there? What had led up to that scene was fairly funny. I like the Farrelly Brothers, but even sometimes they can they can take that too far.

I wasn’t sure how Masterminds was going to go down, considering the bad reviews. It’s a bit funnier than one may expect, but yet it doesn’t capture the greatness of other films of its kind, like Dumb and Dumber or Anchorman. But hey, nobody said it had to.


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