Sundance 2011 Review: FLYPAPER

Allison Loring

by: Allison Loring
January 30th, 2011

Rating: 2/5

Director: Rob Minkoff
Writers: Jon Lucas (screenplay), Scott Moore (screenplay)
Cast: Patrick Dempsey, Ashley Judd, Jeffrey Tambor, Tim Blake Nelson

Ever wanted to see what McCrazy would be like? Patrick Dempsey answers that question with his manic performance in FLYPAPER as obsessive bank patron Trip p,who has too many things running through his brain, all of which seem to pour out of mouth in similar rapid succession. Taking place over the course of an accidental duel bank robbery, the film keeps the audience trapped inside the confines of the bank along with the criminals and hostages.

There have been many films made about the art of bank robbing (THE TOWN recently gave us a peek inside that world), but rarely one in which two robberies are attempted at the same time by two separate groups of criminals. Rather than the slick and tightly planned larcenies we usually see in heist films, FLYPAPER is one misstep after the next as these two crews unsuccessfully try to crack open the bank’s safe and ATMs, respectively.

During a seemingly normal afternoon before closing, we meet a few of our principal players, from recently engaged bank teller (Ashley Judd) to head of security (Curtis Armstrong) to feeble bank manager (Jeffrey Tambor). Before the day can end, two sets of robbers burst in the front door, armed and ready to cash out. The first are suited up and seem to be the more “professional” of the two while the second look like they essentially rolled out of a backcountry field after shooting cans off a fence. The juxtaposition of the two is amusing, although the differences they highlight are obvious.

A shot is fired and a security officer goes down. While the crooks argue over who gets to steal what and the patrons (now hostages) fear for their lives, Tripp begins to wonder (and hypothesize) who shot the officer and why. Through a series of ridiculous gaffes we learn about the different players, now forced to spend the night together, and it turns out nothing is as it seems. After turning to the criminal ranking system online (think "Hot or Not" for bank robbers) the idea that a possible third suspect may be involved starts to seem more and more likely.

With the constantly changing focus of this stand-off and the person at the center of it all shifting from character to character, FLYPAPER keeps you wondering what the real end goal of the situation is and even more so who is the mastermind behind it all. As the bullets start flying, rather than feeling particularly invested in any of the characters, you simply note who on the list of suspects is now eliminated. The film would have benefited from slightly tighter editing as it started to drag a bit in the middle as we rotated from checking on the antics of bank robbery group number one to bank robbery group number two to the hostages.

Tim Blake Nelson really carries the laughs in this film as dimwitted red neck Peanut Butter, paired with his equally affable partner in crime, Jelly (Pruitt Taylor Vince). Nelson always throws his all into his roles and does not hold back in FLYPAPER as he goes for broke and plays right in to the absurdity.

If you just let go and take it for what it is, FLYPAPER is a goofy romp with some decent laughs. Considering the extensive list of actors in the film, I do wish more of the cast had been utilized rather than confined to the hostage room with a line here or there to deliver. Although it plays slightly like an extended Saturday Night Live skit, FLYPAPER does succeed in mocking this film genre and, if anything, answers the question, what would happen if anything that could go wrong during a bank robbery, did?

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