‘Masterminds’ Is A Great Example Of Why Improv Comedy And True Crime Don’t Usually Coexist

Senior Editor
09.30.16 11 Comments

That Masterminds ends with both epilogue photographs of the real-life subjects next to the actors who played them and a lengthy blooper reel of the actors cracking each other up on set should tell you everything you need to know about it. This is a true crime story of dumb bank robbers and failed murder plots that’s also a series of half-assed sketches starring SNL actors recycling bits to get a rise out of each other. It defines “trying too hard.” And hey, you know what’s a great way to make a heist movie dull? Fill it full of actors not committing to anything and make everything over-the-top ridiculous.

Just look at the costumes. Zach Galifianakis with a medieval Dutch Boy haircut, Jason Sudeikis in a black mustache, Owen Wilson in a sleeveless T-shirt and Hammer pants, Kate McKinnon in a taffeta nightmare prom dress — this styling might be funny in a photobooth prop kind of way, but it comes at the expense of setting up a story that’s believable in any way. The cast looks like high school kids goofing around in thrift store clothes. That was probably fun for them (hence the blooper reels) but not something anyone else wants to sit through for more than five minutes. Also, didn’t Jared Hess (who directed Masterminds) already use the “tough guy in Hammer pants” bit in Napoleon Dynamite? Moreover, if you think you have to try this hard to make the true story Masterminds is based on interesting, why would you want to tell it in the first place?

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