From the director of Napolean Dynamite and Nacho Libre comes Masterminds, a Jared Hess film with a strong cast but lackluster jokes.
Masterminds revolves around David Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis), a bumbling night guard at an armored car company with a strange bob haircut straight out of medieval times. When David becomes infatuated with one-time coworker Kelly (Kristen Wiig), Kelly and her friend Steve (Owen Wilson) use that to convince David to pull off one of the biggest bank heists in American history. Having successfully robbed his employer, David must escape to Mexico and eventually faces a series of mishaps involving Kelly, Steve, the FBI, and a hit man played by Jason Sudeikis.
Perhaps the most incredible part of this film is that it’s based on a true story. In fact, the real David Ghantt agreed to be a consultant on the film.
Set in the 90’s, Hess has plenty of fun with his characters’ haircuts and wardrobes — there are plenty of tracksuits to go around. Galifianakis is right at home playing the bumbling but well-meaning David, at turns ridiculous and ridiculously sad. The same can be said for the rest of the cast, who give it the good old college try but can’t rise above the mediocre jokes. That said it’s not like Masterminds is a complete slog of a film. It’s genuinely amusing to watch but lacks any originality or creativity.
More often than not, the humor in Masterminds is predictable and easy. There are pratfalls and gross out moments (like when David eats a tarantula with little hesitation). There are poop jokes and jokes about David being dumb. Very few are surprising and none are subtle which resulted in me spending 94 minutes wondering how this film managed to get made with such an impressive cast. Producer credit from Lorne Michaels at the end answered that question.
Full of Saturday Night Live talent like Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Jason Sudeikis and headlined by Galifianakis, Masterminds feels like you’re watching someone’s side project – like a film your friends have been shooting on weekends. However, when your friends include Lorne Michaels and famous comedians, your crappy side project can apparently nab a big production budget and wide release across the nation.