Performance Does Carry: Our Review of ‘Masterminds’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - September 29, 2016
Performance Does Carry: Our Review of ‘Masterminds’

For one reason or another, movies get left on the shelf for awhile but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t without some merit.  Now that the dust has settled and we are finally seeing the light of day on director Jared Hess’ Masterminds it’s not without its fair share of problems but it proves a couple of things that had already been brought to light earlier this year in a movie that shares a lot of the same cast.

David Ghant (Zach Galifanakis) is just your run of the mill schnook in a dead end existence that he can’t stand, but his life is about to change as he learns the true meaning of adventure beyond his wildest dreams.  At his humdrum job of driving an armored car, his only glimmer of hope and excitement beyond the mundane lies in his flirtatious relationship with his co-worker Kelly Campbell (Kirsten Wiig) who convinces him to come along on the scheme of a life time.  Led by Steve Chambers (Owen Wilson) and his group of dimwitted crooks they pull off the impossible and steal $17 million in cash.  However, David trusted the wrong people as he gets double crossed by Steve and his gang as they spend the cash, living the high life with David left to take the fall and poor Kelly left not knowing what the hell is going on.  Now with a psychotic hit man (Jason Sudekis) and the authorities on his trail, he has to set things right to truly win over the woman he loves and get his back life on the right track.

Yeah, I’ll admit that Masterminds is about as uneven as it all gets, but there are some genuine laughs throughout in this one and as we saw in full glory early this year for the Ghostbusters reboot; Kate McKinnon is a fully fledged comedy star that just hasn’t been given her crown yet.

M326 Jason Sudekis and Zach Galifianakis star in Relativity Media's upcoming release, "Masterminds". Credit: Glen Wilson Copyright:  © 2014 Armored Car Productions, LLC

Probably a little more accessible then some of Jared Hess’ previous efforts, the movie still plays pretty well from beginning to end as it is a scenario that is rife with comedic potential and the jokes are always solid, even when they don’t quite land as well as they should.  It’s ridiculous and it’s gonzo, but it’s never not fun as these characters that were inspired by real life events always feel fleshed out and rarely come across as purely jokey, instead we actually get a moment or two to actually feel for them.  Hess leans into the comedy of it all, the pathetic, the deadpan and the genuinely funny bits and while it doesn’t all click it all feels like it should be there and is never superfluous or out of place.

Zach Galifanakis has certainly mastered playing the loveable yet socially inept loser to a tee and he carries the film well while sadly Kirsten Wiig is kind of wasted here to play trailer park dumb and trashy.  Owen Wilson’s role should have been a little more unhinged and could have easily used a little more of a Bradley Cooper type to it while Jason Sudekis was a lot of fun as the gun for hire but you couldn’t help but think it would have been even more fun if Matthew McConaughey or even Brad Pitt had leaned into the part a little bit.  Meanwhile it is a scant few scenes as Galifanakis finance that Kate McKinnon nearly steals the movie out from underneath them all.  She is gloriously deadpan at every turn and reminds me quite a bit of a young Chevy Chase with that kind of sense of humor.  If they ever truly decide to reboot Fletch, I say give McKinnon the reigns and let her run with it as she will be one of the SNL stars that we will still be talking about 10 years from now.masterminds-trailer-2

Ultimately, Masterminds is a fun diversion and while nothing about it screams that you have to go and see it, you could easily do a hell of a lot worse.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.

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