Hot Take: Masterminds manages to steal two hours of your life and never give it back.
If you don’t know the backstory to the release of Masterminds, it’s worth getting you up to speed. Set for release in August 2015, the film’s studio Relativity pushed the release back to October 2015 due to financial troubles. As the company headed into bankruptcy, the movie was shelved for an entire year. Finally, with Relativity out of bankruptcy, the movie was released at the end of September 2016. Why do I mention the backstory? Well, it’s much more interesting to discuss the backstory than the actual movie.
One thing Masterminds does is prove that the script of a movie matters more than the talent when it comes to whether it is watchable or not. Despite a stellar cast featuring Zach Galifianakis and Kristen Wiig in the lead roles and a stellar supporting cast of Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, Masterminds is painful to watch. The sparse laughs are not very strong. Based on a true story but directed by Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess, the movie takes ridiculous liberties that let you know there’s a true story lurking somewhere within the movie but what you’re watching isn’t exactly true.
In addition to the postponed release date, the film has another kiss of death: multiple screenwriters. Two of the three writers also had a hand in the recently released Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life and the other writer is a longtime episodic television writer. Since I’m bashing their product, it feels like it’s nicer to leave their name out of it. You never really know which one was the mastermind behind the bulk of the writing.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- The True Story
There’s plenty to read on the Wikipedia entry about the heist and most of the details make their way into the film. These facts are also the funniest things about the film.
Admittedly, I’m not always a fan of Wiig’s work. However, she has some of the more funny moments in the movie and plays well alongside Galifianakis.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- The Embellishments
Where the story goes wrong is where the story veers away from fact and dabbles in the fictional enhancements to an already ridiculous story.
- Owen Wilson
Wilson neither carries himself as a hillbilly or a gang leader. His appearance in this James Corden bit is much funnier than anything he said or did in Masterminds.