Masterminds Movie Review


Masterminds Movie Review
One of Zach Galifianakis' many disguises in Masterminds

"I've been crying for hours. I had to put my makeup on three separate times, because of the tears."

In the mid 2000's, writer/director Jared Hess showed up and introduced us to his odd sense of humor. With films like Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, Hess was able to throw us off of what we thought was a typical comedy. For me personally, Hess' work was so effective, that I didn't notice his goofy genius until after seeing those films more than once.

His characters may be stupid, but they have heart and substance beneath their wacky appearances. I haven't seen his other two films yet (Gentlemen Broncos, Don Verdean), but even though they were critically panned, I have a feeling that even those pictures have special characters in them as well.


Masterminds is Hess' first direction where he wasn't also a writer for the film. In fact, I believe that the only thing special about the characters in this movie, is that they are so blatantly incompetent, that there's a stupid sense of charm that comes along with them. Although this film is based on actual events, the comparisons to real life pretty much stops at the plot. This is for all intents and purposes, a comedy of errors that works in some spots, and fails uncomfortably in others. For many moments, the goofball attempts at humor come off like an over-excited child that's trying too hard to entertain you.

When the story actually calms down for a bit, that's when we get to see some genuine funny scenes. Even some of the cheap sight gags are honestly hilarious. The contrast between how dumb and funny Masterminds is, is confusing. There were times when I was watching it, that I was seriously considering giving this film a very low score. Then all of a sudden, something good would happen and my overall opinion would start to go back up again. That's what this film is, a rollercoaster ride of inconsistency.

Whether you like it or not, this is a Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover) movie. His character is just as unevenly funny as the film itself. Being stupid can only go so far, and Galifianakis stretches the idea so thin, that it sometimes snaps back for a quick laugh. But he's not the only bumbling idiot on the block. Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids), Owen Wilson (Hall Pass), and Leslie Jones (Top Five), all have their hiccups. Every time that Wiig is on the screen, I feel like I'm watching a MacGruber spin off.

Wilson is just, Wilson, and my personal problem with him is only getting worse (stated in many other of my reviews). And I'm sorry (no I'm not), but Jones is just not a good actor. Her takes come off like discarded SNL clips. The help of Kate McKinnon (Ghostbusters 2016) and Jason Sudeikis (Horrible Bosses), brings a stable insanity to Masterminds that is much needed. McKinnon's soulless portrayal of a boring housewife, is so damn funny that they should have made the film about her instead. And Sudeikis is such a warm welcome to the film's instability, that every one of his scenes had me lit up in enjoyment.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Masterminds

The Good- The pre-wedding photos, the pimped out Geo Metro, tarantula tasting, poolside squirts, an overuse of talcum powder, Sudeikis enjoys fried chicken skin, Galifianakis' stupid disguises, the hit job gone disastrous, and the Vagaway cat fight.

The Bad- We get it. Galifianakis' character is an idiot. Let's move on.

The Ugly- Galifianakis' Dutch boy helmet hairstyle bothered me so much, that it near constantly distracted me from the stupid dialogue.

Final Thoughts

Masterminds is not a great movie and is borderline good for the most part. Maybe if Hess had been allowed to write this film as well, there could have been something more to cheer about when this was all over? Yet even so, I probably wouldn't have been able to tell after the first viewing anyways.
Rating- 4.5 out of 10

Masterminds (2016)
PG-13 | 1h 35min | Action, Comedy, Crime | 30 September 2016 (USA)
A guard at an armored car company in the Southern U.S. organizes one of the biggest bank heists in American history. Based on the October 1997 Loomis Fargo robbery.

Director: Jared Hess
Writers: Chris Bowman (screenplay), Hubbel Palmer (screenplay)
Stars: Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, Zach Galifianakis