Anticipation: 5/5 Masterminds has some of my favorite comedians from SNL: Kristin Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Jason Sudeikis. The trailer looked really funny. It didn’t look too smart by any means, but I enjoy other work from these people, so surely this could be a winner too. Right?
Final Verdict: 1/5 Nope. Well, it was certainly a movie… And it was based on a true story… Well, loosely based. There was a heist in there, hiding out in Mexico, and extravagant spending. But, a lot of minute details were changed for dramatic and comedic effect. Other than having some strong talent, the story and comedy fall flat.
Masterminds is the story of the infamous Loomis Fargo heist, one of the largest in history at the time. Zach Galifianakis plays David Ghantt, an armored car driver who doesn’t seem to have much going on upstairs. He’s very much in love with his coworker Kelly. After Kelly is fired from Loomis, a plan to rob cash vaults is set into motion by Steve (Owen Wilson). He encourages Kelly to use her feminine wiles to encourage Ghantt to help them out. The plan goes off without a hitch. Almost. Ghantt fails to destroy all the cameras and security footage, and he’s easily identified. In an attempt to lay low, Ghantt goes to Mexico with his small share of the cash, hoping and waiting for Kelly to come join him. At one point, Steve hires a hitman, Mike McKinney (Jason Sudeikis) to take Ghantt out, but Ghantt learns that McKinney is supposed to take Kelly out as well. That gives Ghantt the opportunity to play the big hero to his dream girl. Eventually everything turns out okay because Ghantt tricks Steve into confessing his crimes to the authorities. Everyone goes to prison and serves their time and all but $2million of the stolen money is recovered.
All the ingredients were right to make this a funny movie. But even when you have the right ingredients, if the chef doesn’t know how to use them together to make something great, it’s going to taste terrible. All of these actors have been in much funnier pieces. Wiig, McKinnon, and Jones were in the recent Ghostbusters, and I laughed much more during that movie than I did in Masterminds.
The movie would set up and execute a joke and I sat there in the theater thinking, “I know this is supposed to be funny, but it’s not.” The only laughs Masterminds got out of me were ironic. I laughed awkwardly at the purposeful lack of chemistry between McKinnon’s and Galifianakis’ characters. I laughed at the Martha moment (Yes, that kind of Martha moment). I laughed at the Geppetto moment (both moments I won’t spoil here for the sake of leaving those “laughs” in the movie). And… That’s all I can recall.
The one thing that felt right about this film was the setting. The filmmakers weren’t heavy handed with the fact that this was set in 1997. You would expect a film like this to really hit you over the head with tongue-in-cheek nods to the popular films, TV shows, and couples who were a big deal then, and famously broken up now, but Masterminds avoided that. The movie tells you once and lets the fashion and technology do the rest. The movie was full of collared shirts paired with shorts, Zubaz pants, cordless telephones, and Sony Discmans.
But that subtlety was not enough for me to enjoy Masterminds. The plot was ridiculous and the comedy didn’t land. If you want laughs, try any other film these comedians have been in because you won’t find any here.
What are your thoughts on Masterminds? Sound off in the comment section below!