Masterminds is a comedy directed by Jared Hess based off of a true bank heist committed by rednecks in 1997 in North Carolina. The story is made for a good laugh! The setting and character antics in Masterminds are reminiscent of Hess’s Napoleon Dynamite but the humor is hit-or-miss at times. There are sharp moments of hilarity but the gags can be over the top and drag on too long. The cast is terrific and talented but unfortunately, it does not save the movie for me. I really wanted to like this movie because of the awesome cast. If you’ve run out of comedies to watch on your list, then I might recommend it if I happen to remember it. Masterminds is a mediocre comedy and even the wonderful cast could not make this movie memorable for me. It’s a shame too because the story has so much potential.
Quick points of review:
- The story based on an actual bank heist provides a fun and interesting watch.
- The talented cast consistently pulls off the gags well even if it starts to drag at times.
- The humor is hit-or-miss.
- Mediocre comedy that might be worth a watch if you’re a fan of the cast but otherwise not very memorable.
*Spoiler Alert! If you are avoiding spoilers, do not read further. You’ve been warned.*
David Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis) works at Loomis Fargo as an armored car driver with his co-worker Kelly Campbell (Kristen Wiig). Kelly is fired from her job and Steve Chambers (Owen Wilson) convinces Kelly to persuade David to help them steal money from the bank. Due to David’s romantic interest in Kelly, David agrees to help them with the heist.
Kelly helps David train for the crime. David takes the money from his job’s vault and puts it into the Loomis van and takes the tapes from the video camera recordings. He misses one tape. David then gets locked in the back of the van and is forced to tape the stacks of money together so he can press the accelerator and make a getaway. After David crashes his way through in the van, Kelly, and Steve open the back of the van filled with money.
The next day David runs away to Mexico after Kelly gives him $20,000 while promising to come to Mexico for him later. David also takes the name Michael McKinney after Steve creates an I.D. for him using his friend’s name. While David is in Mexico Steve and his family go on a spending extravaganza and even buy a new mansion.
FBI Agent Scanlon (Leslie Jones) and her partner (Jon Daly) watch the recording of David stealing the money. They take on the case and start with questioning David’s ex-fiance Jandice (Kate McKinnon) co-worker at Loomis Fargo, Ty (Njema Williams). After a tip from Ty, Agent Scanlon visits Kelly and questions her about her time with David at Loomis Fargo. Kelly begins to tear up about David but blames the tears on allergies to plastic flowers. Meanwhile, Steve plans on cutting David loose since he’s been caught after missing one of the recordings from the crime scene but Kelly feels guilty about it.
Interpol agents come to arrest David in Mexico. David is able to escape being apprehended and calls Kelly to tell her about what happened. David also discovers Steve’s real name when he accidentally finds Steve’s I.D. in the wallet given to him. Since David now knows Steve’s real name, Steve hires his friend Michael McKinney (Jason Sudeikis) to murder David to avoid being caught by the FBI.
While McKinney is in Mexico he buys an old rifle to shoot David with. While David is disguised to avoid Interpol agents, McKinney shoots at David but the old weapon explodes in his hands. David then has to make a get away from McKinney while on roller blades and grabs the back of a truck. David calls Kelly and learns Steve is trying to kill him.
David is knocked unconscious by McKinney after learning that Kelly had no intention of meeting him in Mexico on the phone. David wakes up in a tub while McKinney is clearing out the drains in the room. McKinney discovers David’s fake birth certificate and thinks David’s name and where he is born is exactly the same as his own. He decides he can’t kill David and befriends him instead.
David calls Steve and threatens to turn himself in if he doesn’t wire $6 million to his bank account. Kelly is confronted and forced into a fight with David’s ex-fiance, Jandice. Steve does not wire the money to David’s account and two of his friends kidnap Kelly. Steve tells David to buy a ticket to South America in exchange for the release of Kelly.
While David is leaving for South America at the airport, he runs into McKinney and discovers his next job is to kill Kelly. David tells McKinney the woman he is supposed to kill is his girlfriend and McKinney agrees to not kill her. Interpol agents show up to arrest David but McKinney helps him escape. The two exchange airplane tickets and David flies back to the States to save Kelly.
In the States, Steve is having a huge house warming party while Kelly is locked up. The FBI puts a wire on a neighbor in an attempt to get Steve to confess to the bank heist. While the party is going on, David is able to sneak in and rescue Kelly. They steal Steve’s car and try to ram through the gates.
David realizes the FBI is in a vehicle nearby and easily gets Steve to confess to the heist. David is sentenced to seven years in prison. When David is released from prison, McKinney is there to pick his friend up and takes him to see Kelly.
Geeky Talk’s Reaction to the Movie
Masterminds is based off an interesting true story that took place in 1997. It almost seems too stupid to be true making a great story to turn into a comedy. The plot is simple and linear which helps to showcase the comedy, but the amount of action I’d expect from a story about a bank heist is minimal. The movie even places old news footage and America’s Most Wanted into the story. Masterminds isn’t meant to be a documentary recounting the crime, but still many of the antics actually happened which made this an interesting watch. (Read this USA Today piece to find out what in the movie actually happened during the heist.)
The cast is loaded with talent. I just can’t help but laugh at some of the awkward but silly moments portrayed by Zach Galifianakis but sometimes these moments dragged a little too long. Sure Galifianakis is hilarious but it feels like a waste of his comedic talent when the same type of gags are repeated too often. The humor becomes stale after the same awkward interactions over and over. At least by the end of the movie, when David rescues Kelly, the film changes up the pace and Galifianakis’s role evolves into David accepting their destiny.
Leslie Jones did a wonderful job as the FBI agent, but it seemed her comedy chops were not being put to good use in Masterminds. She had a few funny moments but unfortunately, it did not highlight her talent as much as I hoped to see. Kate McKinnon, on the other hand, is a riot as David’s ex-fiance. I could not help but bust up laughing about her huge bottle of Vagaway and her interactions with Kristen Wiig. To be honest, I wish the whole thing had been about Jandice instead of David! Maybe then I wouldn’t have been as disappointed, though it might be asking too much since the movie is based on real-life events.
The humor in Masterminds is hit-or-miss. At times the lines are sharp and funny, but the gags can drag on and on. How long is really needed to focus on David’s butt being shot? Heck, even the amount of time spent focused on David’s theft of the money ran on slightly long. Many of these moments are funny and deserve a chuckle or two, but once it’s done can we move on, please? I suppose if you enjoy savoring the moment it might work, but I was ready to see more of the cast.
The cast in Masterminds is hilarious, but the humor missed the opportunity to make the most out of their talent by focusing on some awkward antics far too long. Regrettably, I cannot say I really enjoyed the film because a lot of the movie felt rehashed and bland. It isn’t anything new or different which is a shame when it comes to the talented cast.
I really really wanted to like Masterminds because I enjoyed Hess’s Napolean Dynamite and I love the cast in this film, but it is not very memorable. Masterminds is a mediocre comedy about a real-life bank heist. It might be worth a watch if you have absolutely nothing else to do on a weekend, but there are just too many other movies more worthwhile. You can watch Masterminds right now on Netflix if you are so inclined.
Have you seen Masterminds? What do you think of the review? Am I being too harsh about this one? Put your Geeky Talk in the comments below and let us know. Thank you for reading this review and happy geeky movie watching!