Charm is a delicate thing. Bruce Willis, playing Joe, a lover-boy thief who breaks out of prison in a cement truck, has it. Billy Bob Thornton, playing Terry, a hypochondriac thief who escapes with Joe, has it. And Cate Blanchett, playing Kate Wheeler, the housewife who runs off with Joe and Terry and falls in love with both of them, has it in spades. This Australian actress, who can play anything from an English queen (Elizabeth) to white trash (The Gift), is an asset to any movie.
So what’s wrong with Bandits? The actors and director Barry Levinson take an ambling approach to the Harley Peyton script, in which Joe and Terry become known as the “sleepover bandits” because the night before a robbery they stay at the home of the bank manager and go to work with him in the morning. No fuss. No shooting. o wonder Kate falls for them. They’re quirky with their wigs and disguises, and Kate, a madcap given to singing pop ballads, is their match. Adding to the quirk overload is Troy Garity (the son of Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden), as a bungling stuntman who helps the bandits. Before long the actors seem to be having more fun than we are. Bandits runs a poky two-hours-plus. What started as cute becomes cloying and bloated. Charm should never feel like it weighs a ton.