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Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – A Bad Idea Gone Wrong

My notes on the comedy A Bad Idea Gone Wrong.

 

Given the title, it’s almost a disappointment that this bad idea doesn’t go more wrong.  Considering that the main characters are amoral slackers as half-hearted about their big venture into burglary as everything else in their lives, it’d be more entertaining – and funnier – if they got into actual jeopardy during their ill-advised heist, rather than sat around whining and referencing Tarantino movies (yes, people still do that in indie dudebro flicks) while coming over as scarcely hard enough to register in a Kevin Smith movie (yes, he gets riffed on too).

It opens with pals Marlon (Matt Jones) and Leo (Will Rogers) in a diner talking about how unfair life is and fantasising about the opening of Pulp Fiction, only they don’t have any guns and would have to order the steak special to get knives.  Leo has found a prime target for their first foray into housebreaking – a luxury home in a gated community, which is empty because the owners are away on holiday.  The clods get into the place easily, with the connivance of a pizza guy (Sam Eidson), but things start to go South when Marlon fiddles with the turned-off security system and accidentally arms it, trapping them in the house.  Then, he tumbles that the reason his pal knows about this place is that the ex-girlfriend he can’t stop moaning about lives here with her much richer new fiancé – and Leo is more interested in combing the place for hints that she’s still into him than heisting anything even remotely valuable.  Finally, they find a girl – Darcy (Eleanore Pienta) – in the bedroom, claiming to be a house-sitter, and make a hash of tying her up while they loot the place.  A first feature by writer-director Jason Headley, it’s shot through with the kind of unexamined male self-pity that’s hard to take in comedies where the protagonists are put through the wringer.

The absent ex-girlfriend’s superficiality in ditching Leo for a richer guy is taken on trust, with never a thought that the fact he’s the sort of person who breaks into a girl’s house to steal from her might at least have contributed to her urge to get the hell away from him … and it turns out that Darcy is a crooked manic pixie dream girl who gets off on being tied up and choked, and the whole caper is a meet cute for the pair.  Marlon, named after the Jackson 5 member not Brando (no one even mentions the Wayans brother), is the chubby, half-smart, half-simpleminded half of the team, and his running joke involves a radio phone-in impossible quiz.  There are a few smart lines and the squirming farcicality of the situation eventually gets complicated enough to take the edge off the creepiness, but this really could have done with a corpse or two … or at least some minor mutilation.  Typical of the level of humour is a lengthy scene where Leo lights matches and gallantly averts his eyes as Darcy performs ‘number two’ in the bathroom.

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