Review: 'Masterminds' Wastes the Comedic Potential of Its Cast

Scott Carney ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
On October 4, 1997, a vault supervisor at a Wells Fargo Bank, along with his associates, pulled off one of the greatest bank robberies in American history, stealing $17.3 million in cash. The events of this heist were apparently ripe for comedy as they are the subject of the new film Masterminds, featuring some of the funniest names currently working in Hollywood. Zach Galifianakis plays David Scott Ghantt, the vault supervisor who is convinced by his former co-worker and crush Kelly Campbell (Kristen Wiig) to assist her and her friend Steve (Owen Wilson) by being their inside man in the heist. Wanting to emulate the spy movies he is obsessed with and win Kelly’s heart, Ghantt agrees, but gets more than he bargained for when he pulls the heist off.
It is ironic that Masterminds, directed by Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess, features so many funny people because, besides a few amusing moments, the humor of the script never really goes past a lame fart joke or unfunny sex gag. The first act is especially prominent of this, as Galifianakis and Wiig simply hit every beat the script requires while trying their best to make tired sexual innuendos or discussing whether or not a gun shot off Ghantt’s genitals, funny. Galifianakis and Wiig are not the only comedic talent to be wasted. Kate McKinnon, a recent Emmy winner for her hilarious work on Saturday Night Live, plays Ghantt’s fiancé, a one-note creep who comes off as a bad character McKinnon left on the SNL chopping block. Leslie Jones also appears as the FBI agent tracking the case, but the role is mostly written as the “Straight Man” and doesn’t take advantage of Jones’s chops.

Jason Sudekis and Zach Galifianakis in Masterminds. Photo Credit: Relativity Media
Jason Sudeikis and Zach Galifianakis in Masterminds. Photo Credit: Relativity Media.
The only slight saving grace comes during the second act in the form of Jason Sudeikis as a surprisingly sensitive Killer Joeesque hit man, whose affectionate personality combined with his indifference to murder scores some of the film’s few laughs. Wilson also makes the most of an underwritten villain role, using his traditional deadpan to get a few chuckles, even if the line is not particularly funny.
However, the efforts of all the actors involved are unfortunately not enough to save the film. At the very least, the blooper reel made it seem like the actors had a good time making the movie and making each other laugh. Therefore, this movie may be a minor setback, but it won’t stop the momentum of these immensely funny people going forward. After all, they are comedic masterminds, even if Masterminds isn’t.
Grade:  D+
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