Life of Crime

"Very Good"

Life of Crime Review


Although the plot itself is nothing special, this kidnapping comedy keeps the audience entertained by filling every scene with outrageous characters and twisty interaction. Based on an Elmore Leonard book, this free-wheeling movie is such a tangle of colourful people and riotous 1980s hairstyles that it can't help but be enjoyable. Especially once we realise that the story isn't the most important thing.

It's set in 1984 Detroit, where trophy wife Mickey (Jennifer Aniston) has finally had it with her chilly husband Frank (Tim Robbins). As she's thinking about taking their son (Charlie Tahan) and leaving, he's holed up in the Bahamas with his mistress Melanie (Isla Fisher) while preparing to serve Mickey with divorce papers. Just then, low-life criminals Louis and Ordell (John Hawkes and Yasiin Bey, aka Mos Def), kidnap Mickey and demand a $1 million ransom. Of course, Frank thinks his problem is solved until he realises that they also know about his dodgy business dealings. And things are further complicated by Louis and Ordell's Nazi-loving sidekick (Mark Boone Junior) and an amorous dork (Will Forte) who's in love with Mickey.

As the chaos escalates, writer-director Daniel Schechter keeps the focus tightly on the offbeat characters rather than the gyrations of the narrative. This makes it easy to identify with everyone on-screen, particularly Aniston and Hawkes, who have the most complex roles. They're the only people who have either emotional shadings or a story arc to travel, so watching them become increasingly aware of the opportunities around them is a lot of fun. Everyone else is here to get laughs, and it's amusing to see each of them reveal things about themselves that add to the mayhem, from Fisher's surprisingly savvy bombshell to Bey's womanising prowess. And of course each character approaches the various moral dilemmas from a distinct angle.

Oddly, the morality involved is never remotely resonant: as an audience, we just sit back and enjoy the show without worrying about petty things like right or wrong. The one level of meaning comes in the way Frank's financial corruption seems almost quaint by today's standards. But Schechter never bothers to dig too deeply beneath the surface. Why should he when the surface is this colourful? An up-for-it cast, a convoluted story, riotously wacky sets and costumes, terrific music, and a nonstop display of absurdly incorrect attitudes. And even if his slow-burn approach sometimes makes the narrative feel a bit dull, the tangled web of intrigue between the characters is more than enough to keep us laughing.



Life of Crime

Facts and Figures

Genre: Comedy

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Friday 29th August 2014

Box Office USA: $0.3M

Budget: $12M

Distributed by: Roadside Atrractions

Production compaines: Abbolita Productions, Gotham Group, Starstream Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Fresh: 47 Rotten: 25

IMDB: 5.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Daniel Schechter

Producer: , Elizabeth Destro, Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Jordan Kessler, Michael Siegel, Lee Stollman

Starring: as Louis Gara, as Ordell Robbie (as Yasiin Bey), as Mickey Dawson, as Frank Dawson, as Melanie Ralston, as Marshall Taylor, as Richard, Kevin Cannon as Bandleader, Julie E. Davis as Parent at tennis match, Seana Kofoed as Kay, as Tyra Taylor, as Bo Dawson, as Ray, Leonard Robinson as Officer Dixon, Kevin Porter Young as Officer Kenny, Alex Ladove as Pamela Taylor, Jenna Nye as Shelly Taylor, Jill Abramovitz as Jan, Florencia Lozano as Anjelica, Charles Sauveur Bonan as Ray Shelby, Kofi Boakye as Cedric Walker, Chyna Layne as Loretta, R. Marcus Taylor as Borsalino, Nathan Purdee as Rodney the Doorman, Margaret Rossini as Mickey's Mother, Jennifer Prediger as Marshall's Assistant, Dennis Michael Hall as Restaurant Valet

Also starring:

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