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Masterminds - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: B
Cinematography: B
Editing: B+

Here is an example of a movie getting decidedly mixed reviews, and that fact is really beside the point. Are you a fan of Zach Galifianakis? Kristen Wiig? Jason Sudeikis? Especially Kate McKinnon? If so, you're liable to find every one of them funny in this film. I did.

And I haven't even mentioned Owen Wilson or Leslie Jones, although the truth in both their cases their parts don't quite showcase their talents as well as they could. They commit to what they're given -- Jones especially -- but the admittedly spotty script (by three writers) could have served them better.

It's a fascinating story, considering we're told at the beginning that it's based on a true one -- that of one of the largest financial heists in U.S. history. Galifianakis plays David Ghantt, a vault supervisor who is pictured in the end credits as an actual film consultant. This indicates some ties to reality, but the way Masterminds plays out, what really happened couldn't possibly be this screwball. On the upside, even as a fairly cornball comedy, the ties to reality go a long way toward keeping the story from being predictable. This goes in unexpected places, and that makes it fun.

Ghantt has a crush on his coworker, Kelly (Wiig), whose friend Steve (Wilson) convinces her to use him to help them mastermind the heist. "Mastermind" is clearly a generous term here, as these people are all pretty clueless as to what they're doing. It's notable, however, that none of them are exactly stupid -- Ghantt is the closest to it, but even he winds up figuring some shit out. I liked that these characters are all Southerners from North Carolina but they aren't all depicted as morons. Some of them kind of straddle the line, sure. But these characters' flaws have more to do with a lack of common sense than a lack of intelligence.

Ghantt, for his part, winds up in Mexico and back again. He essentially abandons his fiancé with the promise of being with Kelly. The fiancé seems to exist as a character here only to allow Kate McKinnon to be the funniest part of the movie. McKinnon makes Jandice a total caricature, but I laughed more when she was onscreen than any other time. Someone needs to give that woman a lead role. She has something in common with Melissa McCarthy, in that she elevates otherwise mediocre material with her comic talents.

And, let's face it, Masterminds is mediocre material. But it's also packed with Saturday Night Live alumni who combine to make an ensemble cast that moves the mediocre into the genuinely funny. Sudeikis is a little over the top as a hired assassin, but even he still cracked me up. This is a movie that knows how dumb it is, and has fun with it. It also has a target audience, which isn't any critic who turns their nose up at it. I'm not one of those -- not in this case, anyway. What else do you really need to know, really, except that I laughed consistently throughout? That's all I wanted from this movie, and it delivered.


Overall: B
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