Film Review – Masterminds


Film Review – Masterminds

Born in 1973, I grew up on 80s classics like Police Academy and Back to the Future, loving anything that combined “naughty” humour with slapstick comedy.

Recently I’ve enjoyed the Jump Street movies, The Heat, and the Ghostbusters remake for their own love of 80s films, and their attempts to build on what came before.

Masterminds is a movie straight out of the comedy section of a 1980s video store.

Starring Zach Galifianakis (Who I LOVE), Kristen Wiig and two of her mates (from SNL & Ghostbusters 2016), Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, the film also boasts Owen Wilson as the “Mastermind” of a heist from an armoured car company where Galifianakis’ character David Ghantt actually worked, as well as Jason Sudeikis playing a hitman keen on using unconventional weapons to dispatch his targets.

This is laugh out loud dumb comedy from true masters in the art of making us laugh.

The “based on a true story” premise, is simple enough –  known as the Hillbilly Heist, Wiig as Kelly, an ex-employee of the armoured car company Loomis Fargo in North Carolina in 1997 convinces her one time colleague David Ghantt to steal a large volume of cash, sharing it with Steve Chambers (Wilson) the mastermind of the crime, before absconding to Mexico until the heat dies down.

Galifianakis does a splendid job portraying a lovesick Ghantt, putting his own marriage to Jandice, played by Kate McKinnon on hold, while allowing himself to be manipulated by Kelly Campbell (Wiig) into committing the crime and heading over the border. Likewise, Wiig has a genuine ability to look like she actually might have feelings for the ridiculous looking Ghantt, who, after the crime, utilises a disguise he describes as  “like Jesus and a cat made a baby.”

There is plenty of slapstick comedy, great straight-faced performances, and an added sense of urgency once Sudeikis gets onto Ghantt’s tail.

At one point Ghantt attempts to outrun Sudeikis’s hitman Michael McKinney in a pair of rollerblades hanging onto a ladder atop a Mexican tradesman’s truck, and it is one of the funniest scenes in the film.

Likewise the Mexican authorities attempting to catch Ghantt on a motorised bicycle, launching off a wharf in hot pursuit had me guffawing out loud.

The genius is in the fact that being a true story, you could not make something this dumb up, and the production stays pretty faithful to the remarkably stupid truth of the perpetrators, who flaunted their new found wealth in conspicuous fashion, not to mention the basic flaws in the execution of the robbery, with Ghantt knocking out 3, but not all 4 video cameras recording his escapades.

It is a great movie to watch at home on DVD,  but if you are in need of a comedy at the cinema right now then this should do the trick. There is a lot of serious fare – Sully, Deepwater Horizon, The Girl on the Train and Inferno, along with family films, Secret Life of Pets, Storks and the spooky Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, s Masterminds along with Bridget Jones Baby are two decent options if you want some mindless laughter in your life.

But be warned it is absolutely retarded. In the best possible way. There is very little ground with a film like this, you will either laugh out loud at the stupidity of it all like I did, or sit in stony silence willing it to be over.

3 Stars. Pure Dumb Fun.

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