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2011 | 2.39:1



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Movie appeal

Dark humor60%



Theatrical release date

 19 August, 2011

Country of origin

 United States



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Screenshots from Flypaper Blu-ray

Flypaper Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, September 22, 2011

In the very same time period “The Lion King” has returned to multiplexes, flexing substantial box office muscle, “Flypaper” is debuting, in far fewer multiplexes. Practically none. Both endeavors were directed by Rob Minkoff, representing quite a drastic difference in terms of filmmaking interests for the helmer, who once helped to conjure a mighty animated vision of the animal kingdom, only to find himself 17 years later masterminding a low-budget Patrick Dempsey bank robbery caper, and a tepid one at that. Where’s Simba when you need him.

Entering a local bank to make change, Tripp (Patrick Dempsey) has suddenly found himself in a heap of trouble, caught between two teams of threatening men looking to clean out the vault. There’s high-strung Gates (Matt Ryan) and his team of tech wizards (including Mekhi Phifer) on one end and goobers Peanut Butter (Tim Blake Nelson) and Jelly (Pruitt Taylor Vince) on the other, with plenty of hostages to monitor in the middle (including Jeffrey Tambor, Curtis Armstrong, and Octavia Spencer). Suffering from severe OCD and an insatiable curiosity, Tripp attempts to uncover motives and ascertain the true identity of the standoff’s lone casualty, while chipping away at the frosty exterior of teller Kaitlin (Ashley Judd), who’s slowly warming to the kooky stranger’s constant flirtations. As bullets fly, explosives are triggered, and motives are deduced, Tripp finds himself less interested in surviving the dual raid and more intrigued with the mystery of motives keeping the heists afloat.

“Flypaper” reminded me of a zippy Barry Sonnenfeld feature, which is both a compliment and a complaint. Lacking the filmmaker’s fluid camera style and penchant for pronounced absurdity, Minkoff nevertheless mimics the same screen swirl of darkly comedic chaos, scattering an ensemble of colorful actors who unleash tiny offerings of chaos, leading to an odd routine of accidents and irritations. The screenplay for “Flypaper” comes from the writing team that manufactured “The Hangover” -- another cinematic influence on the project, stealing that movie’s snowballing feel for bleary-eyed puzzling in the midst of exaggerated madness. Minkoff doesn’t bring a whole lot of originality to the picture, which could use a shot of surprise considering the snoozy bank heist conventions it employs. Still, what he lacks in freshness he makes up for in velocity.

“Flypaper” deserves credit for its energy and hostile comedic impulses. With the majority of the movie stuck inside of the bank, the filmmakers come up with a few amusing distractions, playing up the frustration felt by the opposing baddies, pitting slick criminals who use laptops and torches to crack open vaults against the likes of Peanut Butter and Jelly, a pair of dim-witted rednecks failing to tear apart a row of ATMs with plastic explosives. The characterizations are cartoonish, but feed into a manic atmosphere of stress eruptions and mental vibrations, observing Tripp slink around the premises, compelled to uncover the underlying reason for the robbery conflict. The jokes are stale, the performances are predicable (Tim Blake Nelson could play the twangy hick role in his sleep), and the alleged romantic connection between Tripp and Kaitlin is insufferable, yet Minkoff always keeps the event buzzing along. Little of “Flypaper” enlivens the senses, but it’s never boring.

The feature is many things as it zooms forward, but it ultimately wishes to be identified as a whodunit, with Tripp finally piecing together the enigmatic elements, leaving the viewer to guess the real mastermind of the criminal confluence. Minkoff is dedicated to a section of the script that’s quite tedious, attempting to wrap the picture up with bullet discharges and question marks when the film is best played as a farce, breezily detailing bad things happening to stupid people. “Flypaper” craves to be clever and deceptive, but it never clicks together as a compelling puzzle, only as an R-rated cartoon with the occasional spark of violent glee.

Starring: Patrick Dempsey, Ashley Judd, Octavia Spencer, Jeffrey Tambor, Tim Blake Nelson, Mekhi Phifer
Director: Rob Minkoff

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