Starring Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Jason Sudeikis
The irony behind the title certainly extends to the filmmakers, as they have delivered quite the comedy dud. The biggest joke here is when “based on a true story” appears near the opening credits. It’s true, this film loosely depicts (and makes fun of) the backwards North Carolina rednecks, who pulled off the largest sum stolen in US history. Coincidently Galifianakis (The Hangover, Due Date) is a North Carolinian himself. Masterminds not only reunites much of the principle cast of Saturday Night Live, but also three of the four Ghostbusters. The films funniest moments are with Jones who has a minor role, about two genuine laughs in 90 minutes.
Steve Chambers (Wilson) really was the mastermind behind the plan to use Loomis Fargo security driver David Ghantt (Galifianakis) to steal all the money and then pawn him off to Mexico. Blond local bombshell Kelly Campbell (Wiig) used David’s crush on her to talk him into the insane heist. It was only when she lied about coming to visit him in paradise, bringing more to add to his 20K they let him have, that she realized Steve’s real plan of getting rid of him and keeping the entire 17 million for himself. Hitman Mike McKinney (Sudeikis) messes up real bad in Cozumel, prompting David’s return to North Carolina with quite an insane confrontation involving Steve on the property of his new mansion.
Will both appeal to and offend more people in the North Carolina region than anywhere else in the world.
The element of the film the really contained some creativity was how costume designer Sarah Edwards perfectly dated the film in 1997. She uses Walkman’s, compact disc strap on arm sleeves, those iconic white Reebok double Velcro high tops, all complete with lots and lots of bangs. The script further helps embed the 90’s culture by mentioning Rick Flair, tipping its curls to Gene Shalit and making accurate comparisons of Galifianakis’s look with the three famous Kenny’s: Rogers, Loggins, and G. The use of words “twiced” and phrases “all get-out”, also show the research done in the state’s very specific dialect. Masterminds will both appeal to and offend more people in the North Carolina region than anywhere else in the world.
There is a real fight scene between comedy queens Wiig and McKinnon, but both actors are better than the material they are given. Galifianakis does his usual awkward performance where he rides the ridiculousness to the edge and beyond. Wilson who replaced Jim Carrey, is not only unfunny but phones this lackluster performance in from beginning to end. This whole production would have worked better as a dark comedy rather than slapstick. It’s certainly a wild tale made more interesting of the facts, yet it’s fallen into the wrong hands. The laughs were available in this backwards crime but the screenplay and director choose to make every scene a skit that never really fits as a whole.
Misses tone, punch line and fails to allow the zany true story speak for itself.