Stars: Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett
Director: Barry Levinson
Harley Peyton

Oddball characterizations exceed brisk pacing in this Bruce Willis – Billy Bob Thornton comedy that’s pleasant and light at heart. They’re aided by the charms and talents of Australian actress Cate Blanchett who manages to immerse herself flawlessly in yet another American role.

It’s the tale of the bantering bandits. Strong, quick-tempered Joe Blake (Willis) pairs with sensitive hypochondriac Terry Collins (Thornton), friends, who make a quick exit from Oregon State Prison via a cememt truck. Joe dreams of starting a new life as owner of a Mexican seaside resort which will be funded by the proceeds from their new careers as bank robbers. Terrified of the prospect of getting caught, Terry comes up with the brilliantly crackpot idea of kidnapping the bank managers the night before and then hitting the bank first thing in the morning. With each new robbery they go from one ridiculous disguise to another wearing outdated wigs and facial hair and goofy outfits.

Success is quick and the duo become legends and fodder for an annoying tabloid TV talkshow host (Bobby Slayton) who dubs them the “Sleepover Bandits” . Joining the team as the getaway driver is Joe’s cousin Harvey J. Pollard (Troy Garity), an aspiring stuntman. He’s about as dumb as his namesake – Bonnie and Clyde’s Michael J. Pollard. Then there’s the acquisition of a hilariously distressed housewife Kate Wheeler Blanchett) who decides to break up the boredom that is her life by coming along for the ride. The film plays like a modern day version of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” with Kate’s affections wavering between the men, never able to decide which one she really wants.

Lotta says: Look for good performances from Billy Bob and Blanchett; Willis seems to do little but sport his trademark smirk, but it’s a likeable one. Thornton’s character is over the top but he handles it so well and he’s quite funny throughout. Blanchett is believable as a wealthy but neglected woman who becomes exhilarated by the boys’ hijinks. The slow pacing gives time for the characters to develop nicely but at times it proves a little too tedious and the overall effect is that the film is far longer than it needs to be. The locations around the Pacific Northwest are quite pretty, though. Still – a good one for the family!

Reviewed 10/13/01