When he’s not stopping Apocalypse from destroying the world to create a new world order for Mutants, Quicksilver is robbing banks. The little scamp.
The story looks like it’s about a group of college kids who plan on robbing a bank. I’m… not getting much more out of the one trailer that I’ve seen, so…
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Evan Peters (X-MEN: APOCALYPSE , ELVIS & NIXON , and upcoming films X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX ), Barry Keoghan (DUNKIRK ), Blake Jenner (EDGE OF SEVENTEEN  and EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! ), and Udo Kier (DOWNSIZING , and upcoming films ULYSSES: A DARK ODYSSEY  and DON’T WORRY, HE WON’T GET FAR ON FOOT ).
Now for the crew. Writing and directing is Bart Layton, known for stuff I’ve never heard of. Composing the score is Anne Nikitin, known for stuff I’ve never heard of, and upcoming films CALIBRE (2018) and BRUNO (2018). The cinematographer is Ole Bratt Birkeland, known for GHOST STORIES (2018), and upcoming THE LITTLE STRANGER (2018) and JUDY (2019). Finally, making for a grand total of three editors, we have Nick Fenton (ON CHESIL BEACH ), Chris Gill (THE CURED , CHURCHILL , COLLIDE , and the upcoming REDCON-1 ), and Julian Hart (stuff I’ve never heard of).
Overall, I’m not sure how to feel. I have this bad feeling that it’s going to try and be a comedy, but still take itself way too seriously. Maybe this is just a bad trailer? Meh, I’m not particularly excited.
This is my honest opinion of: AMERICAN ANIMALS
Set in Kentucky, circa 2003 through 2004. Spencer Reinhard (Barry Keoghan) and Warren Lipka (Evan Peters) are a pair of college kids who feel like they’re ordinary and want to be bigger than who they are. After touring his own school’s archived books that are rare and valuable, Spencer talks about them to Warren. Inadvertently, this causes a chain reaction to plan a heist to steal these books and sell them for huge amounts of money. Enlisting the aid of fellow students Eric Borsuk (Jared Abrahamson) and Chas Allen (Blake Jenner), they spend months planning move.
First of all, can I just say that it’s a bold-ass claim to say, “This is not based on a true story,” and then going ahead to say, “This is a true story”? Like… really bold. Doesn’t that sort of imply that the movie is suggesting that the events they’re dramatizing is factual and should be taken literal? Because… this is made a little odd when you have scenes that literally say, “I have no idea if this is true,” or the movie contradicts itself and knows it, and remarks on it, which… I admit, does add a special unique charm to it that I’ve not seen before in a movie of this caliber.
I think it’s fairly important to note, this movie is a pseudo-documentary. In the sense that the movie features actors to recreate the true events this movie is based on, but throughout the film, it has cuts of the actual men who were involved. Like, it has cuts of the real Warren Lipka, Spencer Reinhard, Eric Borsuk, and Chas Allen, talking to the camera like this is a documentary, relaying their memories of a particular scene. So I do have to say that it’s a pretty unique film in that regard. Sure, the real life people can make appearances in their own movies, but it’s usually at the end during the credits. Not during the actual movie. Yet, somehow it didn’t bother me. I don’t know if this choice has actually bothered anybody, but… I don’t know, my blog, I can say what I want.
But enough about the movie’s facts, how do I actually feel about it? I say… meh? It’s by no means bad, but I think back on it and I have very little reaction to it other than how much it tickles me that MoviePass bought this movie. I guess we now know why they won’t be able to afford to keep their services open for very long, provided the film doesn’t do well, as I’m sure most of the grossing will go to them. Smartest choice? Who knows.
Anyway, I guess I just feel like, outside the actual men who have their input in the story, it’s just another heist film. A ton of planning, a few jokes here and there, none of them bad, but nothing to write home about, it’s more or less just kind of dull. I guess I keep thinking back to something like OCEAN’S ELEVEN (2001), which has so much more likability and is so much more engaging. I hate to make comparisons like this as these are different films, but maybe that’s where the hesitation comes from: no one’s all that interesting. Warren is basically a wannabe Tyler Durden, but a little more pretentious, Spencer is simply bland with very little personality, Eric is almost entirely forgettable, and Chas is… well, out of all the actors playing their roles, Jenner is the most likable with seemingly more energy than the lot, but is still bland. That’s all they are.
The only time I’ve taken interest is during the heist itself. Throughout the entire movie, Warren has been conducting himself as the guy who is in control and saying that the plan will all work out. But as soon as the time comes along to deploy a little violence against the librarian, BJ Gooch (Ann Dowd), he loses his shit and he loses all sense of calm. In fact, that’s when everyone is more or less reacts the same way, but that’s more associated with convincing acting, not a showcase of well-written characters. Some of the banter is funny, and I seriously think Jenner steals the show, but that’s about it. It’s almost boring.
At the end of the day, I think the movie is just okay. Not great, not bad, somewhere in between. Some of the comedy lands, the acting is passable, and I do think the prominent inclusion of the real men whom this movie is based gives this movie a unique flare to it, but it doesn’t make up for uninteresting portrayal of these men and bland writing. As far as a recommendation… I say if you’re a MoviePass user, you may not have much of a choice but to see the film, as MoviePass is reportedly in financial trouble and was likely banking on this film’s success to stave off discontinuing their services. As far as the average movie-goer is concerned, I say… viewer beware. Wait for a discount day, or go for a matinee screening, anything to save yourself a few bucks if you ultimately don’t like it. Best suggestion, wait for streaming or rental. A unique, yet still unremarkable heist flick.
My honest rating for AMERICAN ANIMALS: 3/5
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