Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Disorganized Crime (1989)



Quite the ensemble cast in this late 80's romp. A real list of dated 80's stars, the kind of list you just don't see anymore. Corbin Bernsen, Ruben Blades, Fred Gwynne, Ed O'Neill, Lou Diamond Phillips, Daniel Roebuck and Hoyt Axton. A silly crime/heist caper comedy that is pleasing and well presented in the stunning Montana wilderness.

I liked the plot because its not just a simple throwaway idea. A small team of crooks (Gwynne, Phillips, Blades and Russ) are hired by Bernsen to meet in a cabin in the middle of nowhere to plan a bank robbery. En route to the cabin Bernsen gets nabbed by the cops (O' Neill and Roebuck) but eventually escapes into the wilds of Montana. In the meantime the four crooks carry on with the plan to rob the bank without Bernsen. What follows is a genuinely amusing little comedy where the fours crooks manage to carry out their complicated impossible looking robbery whilst all the while Bernsen is struggling to find his back to civilisation. At the same time the bumbling cop duo are desperately trying to track Bernsen down and are mistaking everything the four crooks are doing as Bernsen's actions. This eventually leads to a nice little twist at the end for the poor beleaguered Bernsen.

So the plot is fun and funny, nothing outrageously funny but it makes you smile. But its the cast that make this movie work, you'd think it might be a case of too many cooks but no it actually works well. The four crooks are a genuinely amusing odd bunch both visually and personality wise. The leader of this surprisingly skilled little team is Fred Gywnne in all of his towering glory. His huge square frame and big block-like head really allows him to perform some great physical comedy with facial expressions which we all know and loved from his Munster days. Gwynne plays it straight here as the stern sensible stoic aging leader dressed smartly in a suit and fedora, that classic attire really suits him(no pun intended) giving him both a dashing and dangerous look.

He is joined by a very rugged manly looking Bernsen who has this golden sunkist visage throughout, he really does look too good. Thing is he doesn't have many lines in the movie, he almost plays a silent comedic role with lots of slapstick tomfoolery...its a good angle actually, quite unique. Lou Diamond Phillips plays the young carjacker and mechanic, Ruben Blades has more of a stereotypical role admittedly as the Latino gangster type but damn if he doesn't do it well with those vibrant tones of his. The less known William Russ can't be overlooked here either with a solid performance as the nervous jittery safecracker who's always at odds with Blades. Some great bickering between them.

On the other hand we also get some great performances from Ed 'Al Bundy' O'Neill and Daniel Roebuck as the bumbling but persistent cops on Bernsen's trail. Not only do we get a slapstick tour de force from Bernsen we also get a showcase in slapstick from these two. I can't deny that O'Neill does tend to give us all the regular facial/physical expressions and emotions we've seen in his long running TV sitcom. Its all very familiar and does kinda make you feel you're watching Al Bundy the movie, you can see his limited range really. But I also can't deny I love his routine and it always makes me smile. Roebuck is a good foil and sidekick to O'Neill's desperation and frustration but he does feel like a poor man's John Candy...sorry but I had to say it.

Honesty this really is such a feel good comedy betwix action movie...more comedy, its like 'Planes Trains and Automobiles' for some criminals sorta. The locations are stunning as I've already said, some shots really showing the expansive mountainous panorama's whilst actually making you feel the chill of raw nature. The plot is fun with tense moments...especially whilst they rob the bank and take out the cop cars, it does feel like they've genuinely put a lot of effort in and you want them to succeed. I always find it funny with these capers how they just happen to have all this expensive looking heist gear which they then proceed to dump after the heist.

All the characters are very likable, you wanna see the bad guys ride off into the sunset but at the same time you don't wanna see the cop duo get into trouble. Its so heartwarming and charming in the end with Gwynne grinning through his teeth whilst chomping on a fat cigar just like George Peppard. Don't get why they go back for Bernsen though, that kinda overrides the clever little twist at the end but hey ho. A totally overlooked and under appreciated comedy methinks, a great selection of character actors with some good solid old fashioned wholesome entertainment for all.

8/10