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Movie Night – ‘Masterminds’ neither great nor terrible

By Bradley Griffith

The comedy genre has been in decline for many years.  A truly great comedy only comes along every five to ten years.  “Masterminds” is now available for rental but, while it’s not a bad movie, it doesn’t even approach greatness.

Back in 1997 David Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis) drove an armored car for Loomis Fargo.  His partner was Kelly Campbell (Kristen Wiig).  Even though David was engaged to be married, he was secretly in love with Kelly.  David’s unrevealed passion took a major blow when Kelly quit her job at Loomis Fargo and started working at Hardees. David continued with his life of boredom and monotony.

In the meantime, Kelly’s friend Steve Chambers (Owen Wilson) concocted a harebrained scheme to rob Loomis Fargo.  For his plan to work he needed not only an inside man, but a fall guy too.  Steve talks Kelly into manipulating David into being part of the robbery.  The plan is simple in its absurdity, David will stay after hours at work on Friday night, unlock the vault, pile all of the money in a van, and drive away.

While the robbery doesn’t go exactly as planned, due in large part to David locking himself in the back of the van, he still leaves Loomis Fargo with over $17 million in cash. Only a total idiot would have agreed to David’s part in the escape plan.  David dons a disguise, shoves around $20,000 in his underwear, and boards a plane to Mexico.  The plan called for Kelly to join him in Mexico after the heat died down with their share of the money.

While David was hiding out in Mexico under an assumed name with fake identification, Steve was living in the lap of luxury leaving a trail that any law enforcement official could follow.  He bought an enormous house with a swimming pool, new cars, news clothes, and even new braces for his teeth.  How long would it be before David realized he had been dou“Masterminds” is completely ridiculous and absurd, and that’s exactly what makes it funny.  The bumbling adventures of Zach Galifianakis and company provide for good entertainment and a few scenes that make you laugh until you cry.  You’ll find yourself wondering how such an inept bunch of criminals ever managed to steal so much money.

The movie went completely off the rails somewhere around the time that David is evading the Mexican Federales and a hit man played by Jason Sudeikis at the same time.  The movie had hit a good stride and the story was working well with the actors, and then it crashed and burned. The pace of the movie slowed down and the story reached levels of absurdity that were no longer funny.  The rest of the movie was passable, but nothing special.

The most interesting thing about “Masterminds” is that it is based on a true story.  A real man named David Ghantt who was an employee of Loomis Fargo robbed the company of over $17 million with the help of a real woman named Kelly Campbell and a real man named Steve Chambers.  How much of the movie was an accurate portrayal is not known, but it’s amazing that they were able to pull off the heist if even half of the movie is accurate.  Even more amazing is that almost $2 million was never found.

A comedy needs certain minimum requirements.  It must have great acting, a great script, great comedic timing, and great chemistry between the actors.  “Masterminds” certainly had very good actors in Zach Galifiankis, Kristen Wiig, and Owen Wilson and decent chemistry between Galifianakis and Wiig.   The script was good until it derailed in the second half of the movie.  It was neither great nor terrible, but was only okay.

Grade: B-

Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, some language, and violence.