Any farce starring Zach Galifianakis and Kristen Wiig can’t be a complete bust. And Masterminds, directed by Jared Hess, of Napoleon Dynamite infamy, gets in its comic licks – just not enough of them. There are enough facts in this script by trio Chris Bowman, Hubbel Palmer, and SNL scribe Emily Spivey to merit the billing, “based on a true story.” Something this effing stupid must be true.
Galifianakis plays David Ghantt , a likable idiot from North Carolina who is desperate to win the affections of Kelly (Wiig), who works with him at Loomis Fargo. Since David has the key to the vault, he’s sure he can impress Kelly by stealing $17 million in cash and running off to Mexico. Kelly and her accomplice Steve (Owen Wilson) know a mark when they see one. And soon the cops, played by Leslie Jones and Jon Daly, are on their case. And did I mention that David has a pushy fiancée named Jandice? Don’t groan. She’s played by the glorious Kate McKinnon, which means we’re all in for crazyass fun. In 1997, the media labeled the crime the “Hillbilly Heist.” Hillbillies everywhere should sue.
The laughs evaporate almost as soon as they land, and some (make that most) of them don’t land at all. But a team of slapstick all-stars are not to be discounted. Before they get caught, these thick-headed thieves buy enough junk to embarrass the real housewives of Redneck, USA, and that includes a velvet Elvis painting. The movie has been on ice awaiting release for over a year, owing to the bankruptcy of its studio, Relativity. But some of the jokes were moldy long before that happened. Masterminds owes us our two hours back.