Film Review: Masterminds Is A Modern Napoleon Dynamite

Masterminds comes out September 30, and the Zach Galifianakis film is a strange comedy to recommend, but a worthy one. The film is a star power turn for the “Between Two Ferns” actor as the central protagonist and heart of every joke. Galifinakis, whom is known for his mystifying, secondary characters, shows that he cannot only carry a film with his talent; he can elevate it. For a movie that rides on the madness of its dumb, farcical characters, Zach Galifianakis was a perfect choice to craft a character that is so deranged, he might leave you in awe. 

Masterminds is based on a true story and follows the 1997 Loomis Fargo Robbery, which was one of the biggest heists in America with 17 million being stolen. Yet, within the first thirty seconds on the film you will be left wondering, “Huh?”. Some of the promos have promoted how dumb these characters are, and they are not wrong. These batch of misfits should, instead, be called lucky with how much goes wrong in both their heist and the aftermath to even threaten their life. It is the “near-misses” and challenges of each character to maintain their  own “intended plan” that gives plenty of laugh out loud moments throughout the film. Still, what catapults the film’s intrigue is its subtle humor. 

I call it the “Napoleon Dynamite” effect where a film slowly conquers your mind and heart with its outlandishness. At first sight, David Scott Ghantt (Zach Galifinakis) seems too unreal with his sweetness and gullibility. It may throw you off your incessant, mental questioning of “Is this guy a joke?’, especially since, again, the film is based on a true story. The crazy characters continuously ensue with the scene- stealing Kate McKinnon as David’s fiance Jandice. She is awkward and mildly terrifying with her frozen facial expressions and dry weirdness, but it will make you die of laughter.  Then, there is the other scene stealer, Jason Sudeikis, whom turns the murderous Mike Mckinney into a hilarious charmer.  I have to admit that the charisma of Sudeikis as an actor was dripping off the screen. Together with McKinnon and Galifianakis, Sudeikis forms a standard for the film in using the strangeness of their character’s humanity as a tipping point for their humor. Many times you will ask yourself, “What are these people thinking?’ because you could not imagine the craziness of their thoughts, yet that is where Masterminds becomes masterful in ingraining wit as both a subtly sewn thread consistently coursing through the film, with as few seam bursts to keep you giggling. 
Not since Napoleon Dynamite did I both love and feel uncomfortable by a set of characters. When Kristin Wiig’s  Kelly Campbell and Owen Wilson’s Steve Chambers seem like the more “down-to- earth” characters then you know the film is sky-rocketing in energy and lunacy. Masterminds is certainly a unique, cinematic experience amongst the current roster of releases, and comes out on September 30.