A Simple Plan (1998) Poster

(1998)

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9/10
Twisted, but exceptionally crafted.
lordrob4 January 1999
This is not the film to see if you're looking for a feel-good Hollywood anesthetic to cope with the end of the holiday season. If, however, you wish to experience a great film, then I highly recommend *A Simple Plan*. Its disturbing twist on the American dream may be too difficult for some--especially the very dark ending--but that is part of what makes the film such quality fare. Scott B. Smith's screenplay is tight and flawless. Sam Raimi's inspired direction may finally reveal to the rest of the film industry what fans of the Evil Dead trilogy have known for years: that, though his tongue is often firmly in his cheek, Raimi is a fine and grossly underrated filmmaker. Especially impressive is the way he and cinematographer Alar Kivilo approach the snow-covered landscapes. There is an immensity to the frozen wastelands of the film's crucial scenes that is almost worthy of David Lean. Also commendable is Raimi's skillful use of animals (among them crows and foxes) for symbolic purposes.

But the cast, not to be outdone by their crew, is equally notable. Billy Bob Thornton gives his best performance to date, surpassing even his award-winning role in *Sling Blade*. Bill Paxton is phenomenal as a straight-laced-family-man- turned sociopath, and Bridget Fonda's convincing portrayal of Paxton's determined wife complements him well.

Audiences at the screening I saw were commenting on the film's similarities to *Fargo* as they exited the theater, and seemed to belittle *A Simple Plan* for its lack of "originality." Granted, *A Simple Plan* is not entirely original. There are indeed vague shadows of *Fargo*, as well as *Macbeth* and Robert Frost, among others. But there is no such thing as an entirely original work, as great art is made by standing on the shoulders of giants. Make no mistake, this is NOT a cheap replay of *Fargo*. The differences are too numerous to note here, but suffice it to say that *A Simple Plan* is a great work in its own right, and deserves to be appreciated as such.
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A study in desperation
bandguy17 July 2000
A Simple Plan is certainly not a simple film, as some reviewers here had hoped it would be. The point is not how simple life is, but how horribly wrong and out of control things can get. This film takes you to the absolute depths of human greed, desperation, and frailty. It is amazing how many evil deeds one can rationalize by believing "and then it will all be over." A Simple Plan is a great character study which makes you think of what you would do in the same situation. At what point would you draw the line? How far would you go to keep millions of dollars all to yourself? The excellent photography adds to the sense of desperation that permeates the whole film. The vast, snowbound landscape is the perfect image for the feelings the main characters have for their station in life: cold, silent, lifeless, unending, and unrelenting.

Don't watch this movie unless you are prepared to see a group of people reach the end of their rope and make a series of life-changing decisions.
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This movie really makes you examine your own motives.
TxMike7 September 1999
"A Simple Plan" immediately reminds you of "Fargo". A dull, snowy winter. Men beginning to cheat on a small scale, which then begins to escalate until it becomes out of control. And no one will *like* the ending, but it is the only ending that could make this fine film complete.

It is set in the wintertime. Two brothers come upon a small plane that has crashed. Since there have been no news reports, they rightly assume no one knows about it. There's money inside, lots of money. Everyone knows what the 'right' thing to do is. But what will they do? What would most people do?

The acting, especially Billy Bob Thornton, is excellent. You will watch the film without blinking. You will ask yourself, "what would I do in a similar situation?" Unless you only like light entertainment, you really need to see this film.
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Simply Terrific
Steve Baker7 February 1999
Simply one of the best films of the year, perhaps the decade! A Simple Plan is about three men who find a huge amount of money in a plane wreck. They decide to keep the dough. It's like winning the lottery. It's the American Dream except that " you're supposed to work for the American Dream. But that just makes this better" replies one of the characters.

A Simple Plan stars Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton as two Minnesotan brothers Hank and Jacob who find the money with Jake's friend Lou played by Brent Briscoe.

The film is directed by Sam Raimi, the creator of the Evil Dead movies and there are some suitably macabre and funny Evil Dead touches to this masterpiece, although Raimi doesn't botch A Simple Plan up as he did with Sharon Stone's The Quick And The Dead a couple of years ago. This is a restrained, delicate Raimi.

A Simple Plan instead is on one plane a wry incisive comment on the human condition, but it's also a cautionary tale about the evil good men can do.

The characters are fascinating. Paxton as Hank is the brainy one of the three. He's been to college and has a wife (Bridget Fonda) who's just about to have a baby. Jacob is slow and sad with a big touch of goodness about him. His hair is lank, his teeth are dirty, he's in his thirties and has never had a girlfriend.

Jake gets drunk most days and nights with his boozing friend Lou, and both are unemployed. The prospect of a ton of money is as unsettling and exciting to this lot as it would be to any honest person who becomes suddenly very rich unexpectedly and illegally. This find is guaranteed to turn their lives up side down.

But things take increasingly violent turns until A Simple Plan has the air of a Shakespearian tragedy solidly biased by Hitchcockian twists. Add to this Raimi's weird sense of humour and a Coen Brothers, Fargo like frozen air and you have a superb film that will have you laughing uncomfortably as you ponder the extent to which men and women will go nuts and nasty when greed overcomes them.

Quite rightly both Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton are being touted for big acting awards as a result of their work in this marvellous film.
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8/10
Dark and twisted - classy
Rumples17 August 1999
This is not a pleasant film and you are going to have to think a little - if this doesn't sound like your type of movie, stay away! If, however, you like intelligent and peculiar film-making, then you'll probably appreciate A Simple Plan. In an effort somewhat reminiscient of Fargo meets Shallow Grave, this clever, dark, character drama explores some unpleasant ground to produce a quirky and distrubing overall result. I must admit I finished this movie feeling rather unpleasant, but struck by its intellect and striking dialogue and performances. This movie is definitely worth the price of a video. My vote 8/10
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8/10
At what cost?
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews30 July 2009
Say what you will about him, like him or hate him, you gotta admit that Raimi knows the craft. Here, he puts Hitchcock's methods to good use, decades after the master died, and creates amounts of suspense that honor his memory. The tension is thick and impossible to ignore. This is exciting and engaging, and it's completely realistic, down to earth and human, to boot. The pace is spot-on, this never outruns the viewer, in spite of being fast and tight, and so much of the relationships and past being told to us through hints, the behaviour and how situations evolve. More thrillers should be like this. This also qualifies as noir and drama. The acting is beyond reproach, there's not a single performance that is lacking, and I'd say Paxton does pretty good in a lead role. Kudos to Thornton for not turning his part into a caricature. The writing is excellent. I have not read the novel, but I would like to do so. I understand that this isn't entirely as brutal as the book, though it is disturbing, and, at times, violent. The cinematography and editing are incredible. There is some strong language in this. The story is magnificent, and develops so well throughout. Thank you, Sam, for making an effort, for not just going for the lowest common denominator, and for understanding that it was the build-up - not purely the plot twist at the end - that made Alfred, and his films, such treasure. The DVD holds a theatrical trailer. I recommend this to any fan of the director and/or anyone else who helped create it. 8/10
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10/10
Highly Underrated !!! Guys wake up and Please see this movie and Vote , deserves a Place in IMDb Top 250
Asad Khan7 September 2009
A simple plan,you may compare it with shawshank redemption and believe me Frank darabont won't mind it.Because this ain't a suspense thriller but with all the things open in the story you will love it.Sometime you will be so involved in the movie that you want to give some advice to the Bill Paxton ,and yes you must not forget about the Academy award nominee performance by the Billy Bob Thornton,the real innocence you can see in him.I don't know what else people were expecting from this movie????? i am curious to know this ! and also i would love to see this movie in IMDb top 250 , I am a movie buff and guys as Baz Luhrmann asked people to trust him on sunscreen i am asking you to trust me on " A simple plan " it worths a rent of 100 $ ,i believe is one of the best of movie that i had ever seen,Best Screenplay , Superb story , Good performances,As a whole i will rate it as 10/10 .
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Well filmed, well paced drama-come-thriller that never goes too far
bob the moo27 June 2002
Hank, Jacob and Lou are out for a ride in Hank's truck when they hit a tree. Walking out into the snow they find a crashed plane in the woods with the pilot dead and a bag of money ($4 million). They decide to keep the money and wait to see if anything is mentioned about it. However as time passes mistrust and betrayal becomes murder as the original simple plan becomes more and more complex.

Sam Rami is a great director, albeit more well known for less subtle films than this such as the Evil Dead movies. However here he shows that he can deal with things that lack in OTT visuals etc but be a good subtle director. The basic story starts simply and gets more convoluted very easily. The plot twists are never absurd even if they are extreme, the way the story builds gradually is one of it's strengths. The best bit is the way that everything is simple (as in the title) – the snow makes all the scenes a simple white, the relationships are simple and the misunderstandings are straight forward. This simple nature makes the twists even more powerful as they come in the middle of a `normal' situation..

The cast are all very good. Paxton is especially good in the lead as the man who doesn't want to take the money originally who then is forced to take the lead in the actions that need doing to cover the crime. Thornton is the best – he not even that recognizable and he deals with his role really well. He may be a simpleton but he doesn't make it just a cartoon role. Briscoe is less well defined and Fonda isn't really key to the plot. Gary Cole has a small part towards the end and Paxton Snr has a small role.

Overall this is very enjoyable. As a noir it is very different to have it in a Fargo landscape. Rami's toned down direction is very good and he does very well with the exciting twists and with the emotional sections too. A different, sometimes slow, but very enjoyable thriller of greed and mistrust.
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9/10
Simply brilliant
Dan Grant1 July 1999
A Simple Plan is a film that had immense critical acclaim yet was in limited release. I was eagerly looking forward to this films release seeing as I am a huge Bill Paxton fan, but why wasn't this film in wide release? I was living in Toronto at the time and to find this film I had to go downtown to one very small art house theater. It wasn't at any of the bigger Silver City's. And that is a disappointment. Because this film is amazing. In a way ( I can't believe I'm saying this ) this film reminds me a bit of Star Wars. Only in the sense that I think there is enough intrigue and well developed characters that you could have made a trilogy and prequels out of this. Jacob could have a whole movie made about him. The characters are that rich.

The film starts off with two brothers named Hank and Jacob ( Paxton and Thorton ) and a friend named Lou( Brent Briscoe ) chasing their dog into the forest. As they get deep into the woods, they stumble onto a downed plane. It is here they find the money, the buried treasure to the tune of about 4 million dollars. At first they are talking about how rich they are and what they are going to do with the money. But it is then that Hank says that maybe they should wait a while to see if anyone comes looking for the money before they start to spend it. After all, the plane is snow covered so maybe it has been here for a while so by the end of the winter if no one comes for it, they will keep it. The other two are adamantly against that logic. " This is the American dream, " one of them says. " You work for the American dream, you don't steal it." Hank replies. Then of course all hell is about to break loose.

Suddenly people that lead their lives without much money are consumed with greed and desperation. Hank's wife Sarah, in a great performance by Bridget Fonda, says that she is tired of having to eat dessert at home when they go out for dinner. She wants to provide a nest egg for their soon to be child. Lou owes money to everybody and wants his share of the money now. Jacob wants to fix up his dads farm. The insatiable need for money is driving everyone apart. It is from here that the plot thickens and it is like the layers of an onion. Every time you peel one layer back, there is another layer to deal with, until there is nothing left. And then what happens?

This film works because it has a terrific story but it also works because of the people involved with it. I will first mention Raimi, the man responsible for directing this tangled web. He masterfully strokes every shot perfectly. He gets the feel for a small, cold winter town and he actually makes you shiver inspite of yourself. If anyone is a true horror fan they would have known that Raimi had a ( hidden ) genius. His Evil Dead films ( especially the first one ) really showed that he could direct a tight film and he did a masterful job of scaring you. And that is not easy. There are not many truly scary films out there and Evil Dead is one of them. Here he finally gets his due.

The second person I want to mention is the cinematographer. This is Alar Kivilo's first real foray into film. He has worked mostly in TV and for this to be as well photographed as it is, is a true credit to his ability. Filming in the snow adds many challenges to this aspect of film and he conquers it beautifully. There is one scene where there are a few men heading into the woods to find the plane and all we see is their footprints. This scene reminded me of a similar one in Lawrence Of Arabia. It is executed perfectly and it conveys the feeling of what the scene is supposed to represent.

As for the actors involved, as I said, I am a huge Paxton fan, just as anyone is if you like his portrayal of Chet and Hudson. And he is very good in this film. He has to play the level headed one of everyone involved and he comes across as the torn voice of reason here. But as much as I thought he was excellent in this flick, I have to say that Billy Bob Thorton blew me away. You can feel his pain. You can sense his split loyalty--friendship and brotherhood. Everything that we are supposed to see in him, we do. He really should have won a best supporting actor this year but he had the deck stacked against him seeing that he already has a statue and James Coburn, the veteran that he is, has none. Go figure. Too many politics in the academy, but anyway....

This film examines so many human issues and it asks us to make our own decisions along the way. And the sad reality is maybe we wouldn't make some of the same decisions, but maybe we would have made worse ones as well. It is a tough movie to examine, and that is what ultimately makes it brilliant.

**** Just on a side note here, I just find it amazing how the six degrees of separation works here. Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thorton have known each other for years and they worked together on a similar character study in One False Move. They also briefly had screen time together in Tombstone. ( If you can't figure out who Thornton is in that film, try thinking of Johnny Tyler. He was about 100 pounds heavier than what he is now. ) Raimi and Paxton met on the set of Indian Summer. Raimi had a small role as Stick. So it is kind of nice to see loyalty does perhaps still exist in Hollywood. And I am really glad they met and then hooked up for this project. This is a true definition of a great film.
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10/10
A good solid thriller
MisterWhiplash30 July 2000
Scott B. Smith's A Simple Plan puts Sam Raimi back in my book (I forgot about him for a while after he did EVil Dead and part 2) by giving a good solid thriller that can sometimes be interpreted by some as a very dark comedy. The plot (I think already stated) has 2 brothers and a friend in a winter setting, who find a plane, a plane that can change they're lives (chiching), but the cost, is something they don't even know they are going to bear. Sometimes the characters make dumb choices, but that atually makes it entertaining. The best surprise however is Billy Bob Thornton's performance because he is always good in anything he does. Good film for Raimi to have, and for the cast also. A-
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7/10
Modern film noir with drama, suspense and sensational performances
ma-cortes30 October 2007
The film deals about Hank(Bill Paxton), his loser brother Jacob(Billy Bob Thornton) and Jacob's best friend, a boozy bud named Lou(Brent Briscoe) find the wreckage of an airplane in the heavy snowy Minnesota forests. The pilot encounters dead and appear a bag filled with various million dollars in stolen money, that they think is dope cash.The trio decide to keep silence about it and Hank hold the money hidden in his house.But someone else is looking for the money, a Fed agent(Gary Cole) and the sheriff(Chelcie Ross)are investigating. Besides, the Hank's mean and pregnant spouse(Bridget Fonda)brings out the greed and soon bad things start to happen to everybody those involved.

This neo-noir story contains drama, thriller, tragedy and is quite entertaining. From the beginning to the ending, suspense and mystery is continuous. The film is plenty of twists, especially on its final part and the script is adapted from the 1993 novel by Scott Smith. The picture is well set and shot in rural small town of Delano, Minnesota. Acting by main actors is frankly excellent with special mention to Billy Bob Thornton and Bridget Fonda as the ambitious librarian wife. Suspenseful and atmospheric music score by Danny Elffman, he's Raimi's usual musician and appropriate cinematography by Kivilo . Firstly was Ben Stiller hired to direct the movie with Nicholas Gage as starring but his wage overall budget and they left , then was set Sam Raimi who made a magnificent direction. He learned techniques on filming in the snowy woods from the Cohen brothers who formerly had directed ¨Fargo¨, a story with certain similarity. Rating : Very good. Better than average. It's a ¨must see¨ for Billy Bob Thornton fans and suspense genre enthusiastic.
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8/10
What would you do? Exactly! Read on...
secondtake31 December 2013
A Simple Plan (1998)

A brutally efficient script makes this seemingly simple movie take on serious formal and psychological depth.

The question occurs to us all—what would you do if you found a bunch of money? It's not yours, but why not keep it?

Indeed. And so it goes, with problems of guilt, trust, deception, persuasion, and cleverness. And inconsistency, as people change their minds.

Everyone here puts in a good performance, with Billy Bob Thornton giving his role some amazing subtlety. (His performance of a slightly simple but actually smart man has more depth here, for me, than "Sling Blade" where he pushes it over the top.)

The setting is "Fargo" country, some place far north and snowy. The implication is that people are honest and yet prone to the usual temptations. And that people know each other and you can't quite get away with anything. The light and the open flat land combine to add a tautness to the dialog, and the events as they keep slowly curling and surprising.

No, it's not a Coen Brothers movie. It lacks some sense of poise and style for that. But director Sam Raimi has a direction of his own that works beautifully, a straight forward competence that you see in the Spider Man movies. Because this movie needs not distractions. It's about the script, and the delivery of that script. See it for that reason and be sucked in.
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9/10
Do you ever feel evil?
Spikeopath9 November 2013
A Simple Plan is directed by Sam Raimi and adapted to screenplay by Scott Smith from his own novel of the same name. It stars Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, Bridget Fonda, Brent Briscoe, Chelcie Ross and Jack Walsh. Music is by Danny Elfman and cinematography by Alar Kivilo.

The snowy wilds of Midwest America, and two brothers and one friend unearth a crashed plane in the snow that hosts one dead pilot and a duffel bag with over $4 million dollars stashed inside. It's moral quandary time. Keep the money as it's probably drug money anyway, tell the police, or sit on it and wait to see what happens? A decision is made, and it literally turns everyone's life upside down...

Scott B. Smith's novel was perfect for a filmic adaptation, in essence it's classic noir with its small town Americanna setting that houses a moral twist of fate that ultimately sees the town implode from within. How refreshing to find the author adapting his own source material, and not only that, to find that it has also gotten a grade "A" production from Raimi and his team.

The story is in all truth simple, it asks the characters, and us, what to do when finding so much cash? Fate meant they found it and fate then dealt its moral card, from the point the decision is made, nothing will ever be the same. The tale spins the three male characters, and one pregnant wife, into a vortex of bad decision making and misery. Enter paranoia, greed, murder, panic and a whole host of other bad things to upset the equilibrium that once dominated their mundane, but safe, lives.

Director Raimi, who apparently received coaching from his pals Joel and Ethan Coen about how best to work in the snow (the Fargo likeness is well noted by critics), ensures the coldness of the landscape dovetails perfectly with the untangling world of the protagonists. With the frost bitten locale acting as the extra character, and as an accomplice as it happens, Raimi slots in memorable imagery to tickle away at the senses. Animals figure most darkly, with crows and a fox in the hen house beautifully endorsing the themes of decay and the need to kill to survive. While the pacing is sublime, Raimi using a slow dripping tap method that tightens the screws until violence jolts the story, and us, to the precipice.

As a character piece it's superbly mounted, where Raimi is indebted to a four pronged delivery of acting performances of some substance. Thornton was rightly lauded for his turn as the slower brother to Paxton's (excellent) all American nice guy, but Briscoe as the "town drunk" best friend and Fonda as the inverted femme fatale wife, also deserve great praise for realisation of characters that bring this Shakespearean neo-noir to vivid life.

Elswhere the tech credits are thematically notable. Kivilo's photography is in sync with Raimi's ideals about the snowy backdrop playing a key part, and Elfman's score, while not something to interest potential newcomers to his work, works very well as blunderbuss percussion is replaced by appropriate woodwind that flits about the wooded surrounds with foreboding glee.

At the end of the day it comes down to quality of story telling, in that regard A Simple Plan is a first class production. If you haven't seen the film or read the novel, then I certainly would recommend the novel to read first as there are inevitable tone downs in the movie. But that is not detrimental to the film's worth, for the visual version of Smith's novel is engrossing, chilling and poignantly bleak. And away from his Indies, it's still Raimi's most accomplished film so far, and he really should consider doing more neo-noir in the future. 9/10
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9/10
One Man's Road To Hell
seymourblack-127 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
When an ordinary man is presented with a chance to acquire a huge sum of money, he seizes the opportunity and in so doing, propels his entire life into an uncontrollable downward spiral. The tragic events that take place on his personal road to hell involve deception, betrayal and murder as well as the breakdown of a number of his close relationships. The main characters with whom he has contact are so realistically portrayed that their actions, although clearly criminal, are always made to seem totally believable.

Hank Mitchell (Bill Pullman) is a decent guy who works as an accountant in a feed store in a quiet Midwestern town. He has a pregnant wife and enjoys the friendship and respect of everyone he knows. One New Year's Eve, he and his brother Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jacob's friend Lou (Brent Briscoe) are in the woods when they discover the wreckage of a plane covered in snow. Inside they find the dead body of the pilot and a bag containing $4.4 million in cash.

Hank immediately suggests that they hand the money over to the police but Jacob and Lou see no reason why they shouldn't keep it. After a while, Hank agrees with their suggestion but only on the condition that he keeps all the loot until the following Spring by which time the crashed plane will have been discovered and it will be known whether anyone else intends to claim the cash. If they do, he'll simply burn the evidence; otherwise they'll split the money equally.

The three men swear to keep their discovery a secret but Hank breaks his promise almost immediately when he shares the information with his wife Sarah (Bridget Fonda). The relationships between the men soon deteriorate as they become distrustful of each other and the actions that they have to take to avoid suspicion soon include murder. Lou demands some of the money and when Hank refuses, Lou threatens to speak to the police about Hank and Jacob's involvement in one of the killings. Hank and Jacob then conspire against Lou and further violent incidents follow before the problems caused by the money are finally brought to a halt.

One of the most chilling aspects of this movie is the way the conspirators (who are just ordinary people at the outset), change so radically as a result of being involved in a crime. Their notions of morality alter rapidly and their readiness to carry out some heinous acts is truly shocking. All of this points to the view that money has the power to corrupt anyone and that under the thin veneer of decency that prevails in civilised society, a far more malign force lies ready to be unleashed whenever the right conditions exist.

Bill Pullman's portrayal of a well-educated man who makes a dreadful decision that leads to awful consequences, is incredibly subtle and convincing. Billy Bob Thornton provides the movie's most outstanding performance as the seemingly not-very-bright Jacob who is actually more complex and sympathetic a character than he first appears and Brent Briscoe and Bridget Fonda do well in their roles.

Overall, this is an exceptionally good thriller in which the atmosphere and the pacing of the action are perfect and director Sam Raimi's measured approach is extremely effective in building up the suspense.
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10/10
Superb, flawless examination of greed (spoilers inside)
Arkaan5 September 1999
Warning: Spoilers
"You work for the American dream, you don't steal it" Bill Paxton says in the film, and that line rings true until the very end. The plot is simple. Three men find 4.4 million dollars, and decide to keep it. From than on, they remain tied to each other in a crime, yet they see it as "finding lost treasure". As soon as Jacob and Hank kill Stevenson, they are in even deeper.

We (the audience) is asked to accept the fact that these decent people are breaking the law, and sympathize with them. It leads us through plot twists that expand on the film's haunting qualities.

Sam Raimi's direction is incredible, as is Scott Smith's script. I have read the novel, and some things were changed. However, the changes were necessary as some parts of the novel weren't cinematic. The cinematography and score also lend themselves very well.

The performances are all incredible. Billy Bob Thorton should have won the oscar for his thoughtful turn as Jacob, the dumber brother who realizes first that they've opened a Pandora's Box. " I wish someone else found that money". When he said that, it's not just the loss of the money that makes him say that, it's the loss of his soul. He is the first to realize that this will end in tragedy. Bridget Fonda is remarkable in her Lady Macbeth-type role. She's chilling and convincing as the wife who at firsts thinks the money should be burned, than changes her mind. Bill Paxton plays the 'everyman' who is the smarter of the three men who find the money. He is incredible, and holds this film together.

What makes this movie work is that it forces us to ask ourselves questions about our morality. Not everyone will like the ending. I think it is perfect.

Number 2 on my top ten of 1998
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9/10
one of the best of 1998
Willie-1225 June 1999
Warning: Spoilers
I thought this was certainly one of the best movies of 1998. The story was exciting and the acting was superb. This was one of those films that had all the ingredients a great movie needs. Perhaps the "fall from grace" the main characters exhibit was a bit of an exaggeration, but it was a powerful portrayal of what good people will do when put in a position that breeds greed. And again, the acting was magnificent. Besides the highly acclaimed performance of Thornton, there was the equally brilliant performance by Paxton, which up until this movie had yet to show that he was a great actor. He plays his character with an intelligence that only great actors have. The performance by Fonda is also strong. You don't just watch this movie, you experience it, and you feel that there is going to be a downward spiral that can't be stopped. A Simple Plan is certainly one of the best movies that came out last year, and although it doesn't have the happiest ending, it doesn't pull any punches either. Even though you feel bad for these characters, you can't really say that they didn't get what they deserved.
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but the problem is that this plan doesn't go exactly as it was planned
dbdumonteil29 January 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers...

The first thing that drew my attention about "a simple plan" (1998) was the director's name: Sam Raimi, the director of a horror movie which became a cult-movie: "Evil Dead" (1981). With "a simple plan", it is to believe that he decided not to stay confined to the horror movie but to try his hand at other cinema kinds. He chose wisely. We can sum up this movie, often compared with "Fargo" (1996) a movie by the Coen brothers by this sentence: how an important amount of money can put an end to a friendship.

Sam Raimi is a brilliant detective movie with allusion to Hitchcock: the ravens evoke the ones of "the birds". Moreover, one of them hurts Bill Paxton at the forehead, exactly like Tippi Hendren. There's another reference at Hitchcock: the body of the dead pilot may evoke the stuffed old woman in "Psycho".

The success of "a simple plan" mainly rests on the actors who are cleverly directed: Bill Paxton, at first sight appears as the most intelligent gut in the trio (he is graduated from university). However, I felt that Sam Raimi tried to make his weaknesses appear like for instance his anguished side: when things don't go as they were planned, he tries with difficulty to keep his head and to make things as right as possible. But Paxton has also an easily influenced side. On that subject, Bridget Fonda is probably the most interesting character of all the film. I think Raimi, during the movie makes us guess that she wants to keep the money for herself and her husband "Hank". Nevertheless, we could say that she's the one who makes the plot progress and create the situations. She's the one that gives her husband the information about the plane crash and above all she's the one who advises him about the decisions to make. And Paxton obeys her almost blindly. So, we can interpret one the last sequences when Paxton throws all the money into the fire like this: he managed to free from his wife's influence.

But according to me, the actor that dominates the cast is arguably Billy Bob Thornton. Of course, he didn't act only in good movies. His previous movie was "Armageddon" (1998) but when he's directed by a stern film-maker as Sam Raimi, the result is conclusive. He's excellent and sometimes very moving in his role of narrow-minded and naive man.

There's also an outstanding emphasizing of the landscapes which confer to the movie a certain poetry and especially of the snow. Indeed, it can be useful to confuse the issue: "But look! It's going to snow soon!" says Paxton to Fonda after this one put a part of the money back into the plane.

This movie is ultimately a success mainly thanks to its actors. Highly recommended.
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A Great Movie...
MovieAddict201623 January 2004
Warning: Spoilers
"If you found four million dollars, would you keep it or turn it in?" a character asks his wife in "A Simple Plan," which documents the events of two men who choose to do what everyone always says they wouldn't do but probably really would if they were given the chance. What chance? A chance to take four million bucks, without anyone knowing who took it, or even that it was taken at all. It's just a simple plan for a simple event. But simple plans can be disastrous, as "A Simple Plan" tells us, in which two brothers named Hank (Bill Paxton) and Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton) discover a duffel bag full of $4,400,000 in a crashed plane sitting out in the middle of an abandoned nature preserve. Do they turn it in? Keep it? In a moment of weakness, they choose to do the latter. Hank's wife, Sarah (Bridget Fonda), is supportive of their decision. She even tells Hank to return some of the money to the plane, to cover their tracks. When Hank does this, it results in the death of a nosy neighbor on a snowmobile. Soon this tragic chain of events slides into even more murder and cover ups as one of Jacob's close friends and his wife die, in short, because of Hank and his brother. The town Chief of Police, Carl, suspects that something fishy is going on. And when an FBI agent comes to town searching for the plane, Hank has to face the facts that the man may not be from the FBI, but instead might be one of two brothers whose ransom money was lost in the plane crash. The film reminds me of the Coen Brothers' amazing "Fargo" in many different ways. Most noticeable is the landscape, as well as the quirkiness of the film that lends a realistic tone to it. Also is the spiraling downfall of the characters -- the events trigger one tragic circumstance after another, eventually turning into murder and double-crossing and greed. Billy Bob Thornton turns in another great performance here as Jacob, the lonely guy who has never kissed a girl but fondly remembers the day that he held hands with a high school babe. His plan is to buy back the family farm that his father once maintained. But underneath Jacob's exterior is a heart with little armor. "I feel evil," he says to Hank after lying to the police about the death of his friend. Hank, played by Bill Paxton, is the prime example of how greed can corrupt a man. When they find the money, it is Hank's firm belief to turn in the cash and report the plane to the police. He is convinced to keep the cash, since it's probably dirty drug money. Soon he is the man who is interested in the money more than anyone else. And by the very end of the film, we realize that sometimes people do the worst things for something they can never even have. Paxton is one of our greatest actors, his credits ranging back to the days of "The Terminator" (1984) and "Aliens" (1986). He's in most of James Cameron's films, including those two mentioned before and "Titanic" and "Ghosts of the Abyss." He's not exactly one of mainstream Hollywood's brightest stars, but here he proves that he can turn in a better performance than some of the highest paid actors (*cough*, Tom Cruise, *cough*) in cinema history. The last fifteen minutes of "A Simple Plan" are tense, exciting and unnerving. This is the type of movie where the hero knows the bad guy is next to him, leading him towards his own death, but can't say anything because then everyone will know that he committed a crime himself. He has to pretend that he doesn't know the bad guy is a bad guy. He has to pretend that everything is all right, even when he's being led into a trap. And when the so-called FBI agent, Hank, Carl and Jacob split up in the woods to search for the plane, I primed myself for what was to come. Is this the type of movie where the hero dies or lives? I won't ruin the surprise. But I think the ending is entirely more meaningful than it could have been if Sam Raimi, the director, had chosen a different route. This is one of the best films of the past decade, and certainly one of the most important. 4.5/5 stars. - John Ulmer
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8/10
Top 5 Film Class Movies: FILM #2
Josh Miller29 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
We're up to my second favorite film from class with Sam Raimi's A Simple Plan. The very well told story of a family divided over what to do regarding the recovery of 4 million dollars from a downed aircraft in the remote woods of their small town. Bill Paxton plays the very intelligent Hank Mitchell, a humble man with a decent job and a pregnant wife, Sarah (Bridget Fonda). He is definitely the brains of the operation, having his slow-witted brother Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton) and obnoxious redneck Lou (Brent Briscoe) included in a plan to lay low with the money in case someone else is looking for it. What proceeds them are games of deceit and murder.

There are many different aspects that are enjoyable to this film. The suspense of the story keeps you on the edge of your seat despite no use of flashy special effects. With no visual effects, the acting becomes that much more important. Thornton is my favorite of this film simply because there is no "mildly retarded" role he cannot fulfill with great precision and timing (He made the murderer Carl an American icon in Sling Blade). Jacob may be the long shot of the Mitchell kin, but he ends up being the most admirable of the two brothers. When everyone in the group begins talking about leaving the city and buying new cars, he makes it known he just wants to buy the family farm back. In a time of greed and self-indulgence, it depicts his love and faithfulness to his family (who obviously preferred the company of Hank over himself).

Not one dollar is spent, yet all four start dreaming of the better life that would await them with the money. The greed theme plays out to be the ultimate demise of the common man with even Sarah, who was the voice of reason, violently making it known that she wants her cut of the money. Raimi makes use of the snowy season as his good friends the Coen brothers did for Fargo. The bright white surroundings of the chilly substance goes well with his characters…very cold hearted. When good people begin killing and stealing, it just goes to show that money is the root of all evil.
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10/10
Quite simply, one of the best thrillers of the 1990s
Leofwine_draca21 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Sam Raimi's snowbound thriller is quite simply one of his best films, up there with the first two EVIL DEAD movies in terms of entertainment value. It's also the director's most mature film, a piece which shows that he has progressed in the last twenty years - unlike John Carpenter, who has alternatively been going downhill since then! The plot of this film constantly twists and turns all over the place, offering plenty of scenes brimming with tension and suspense.

Like most gems these day, this was missed by audiences who were probably lured into watching the latest no-brain blockbuster instead of this classic. It's a real shame when talent is ignored by mainstream audiences, especially when the film in question is so darned good. Raimi makes the most of his chilly locations, offering up the same kind of isolated cold as found in FARGO, and also works wonders with a relatively small cast. Bill Paxton is engaging as the everyman who becomes embroiled in murder and is forced to kill multiple people; Paxton may not be a brilliant actor but I've always enjoyed his performances. However, the real shining star here is Billy Bob Thornton, who gives an accurate and moving portrayal of Jacob, Paxton's simple brother who is unable to cope with the complex lies he is forced to tell.

The rest of the cast all do very good jobs, with a surprising turn from Bridget Fonda as Paxton's wife who is just as corrupt as her husband. Gary Cole also gets to silently brood and strip wallpaper with his baleful eyes in a thoroughly nasty turn. You might be mistaken for thinking this is typical family fare, but it's not, and things get very dark when people start dying. But the film's greatest achievement is slowly creating the people on screen and giving life to them in character-building scenes which really make us care and feel concern. Quite simply, this is one of the best thrillers I've seen of the decade, and I can't recommend it any more highly.
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9/10
9 - Excellent
D' Francis23 December 2015
If you and your friends found an airplane $4 million dollars, would you report it to the police or keep it for yourself? Would you all split it equally or work against each other. Apparently, while most people would say they'd do the right thing, the writers of this movie make the case cogently with main character's Lady Macbeth of a wife. That we're not angels when presented with the opportunity.

One mistake leads to another and the characters find themselves in increasingly more dangerous events. It's a psychological thriller which will have you guessing the mystery at every turn. The resolution was satisfying as it had numerous twists which I wasn't expecting but ones which still feel consistent with the tone of the movie. A Simple Plan was an experience which completely sucked me in from start to finish.
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10/10
A Simple Brilliant !
Jack Coen9 September 2011
Director by Sam Raimi Two brothers and a friend find $4 million in the cockpit of a downed plane. The pilot is dead. No one is looking for the money. To keep it, all they have to do is wait.

A Simple Brilliant !.. what can i say, one of the best movies in the 90's, this film Reminds me of Fargo (Small town, Snow, crime, money and greed) The difference was on the plan and how the plan comes up Suddenly, the storyline in the film was excellent you wouldn't expect anything so there was many great scenes i will leave the rest for you to watch .

Sam Raimi's direction is incredible, as is Scott Smith's script, really i didn't read the novel but i will soon, in the film i know there was a many changes but i'm really enthusiastic to read all Events .

What makes this movie work is that it forces us to ask ourselves questions about our morality. Not everyone will like the ending. I think it is perfect.

The Performances are universally excellent. Especially Billy Bob Thornton, who gives a truly great, and at times heartbreaking performance as a not very bright nor pretty middle-aged man that is doomed to life of loneliness.

5/5
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I marked spoilers...just in case...
thesar-28 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I'm known for spoilers – slap on my own wrist – but here, with A Simple Plan, I don't want to give away…anything. I will sum up with one of my favorite (two-part) quotes in the movie, and if you've seen this classic, you'll agree that this pretty much groups the entire movie together:

"Well, it looks like we're both going to have a lot of explaining to do." – Neil Baxter (Cole.) "Just me" – Hank Mitchell (Paxton.)

This movie, easily comparable to Fargo, but in my opinion – superior to Fargo, as well as Very Bad Things (that was released approximately three weeks prior – doubt that was a coincidence.) Heck, the entire movie's been done before. And that's okay because I always like to add to that famous Biblical quote: "there's nothing new under the sun"…so make it your own. And they did.

Brilliant script, believable acting and surroundings, great pacing and dialogue that was both real and shocking. They certainly proved that this could really happen… "Sometimes good people do evil things."

As for the acting, I was never a Bill Paxton fan, I guess until Frailty. Sure, he was good in Aliens and True Lies, but when he finally got serious in Frailty, so did I about him. He's funny, somewhat, as the giddy sidekick, but when he's the lead and he's the straight man, he truly shines. And he did here.

But, the secondary actor, whom is also not one I favored originally, took the cake here in spades: Billy Bob Thornton as Hank's brother, Jacob. Thornton displayed deep and emotional layers as the slow, but not stupid, simpleton who, indeed, loves the simple life with his buddy, Lou (Briscoe.) Furthermore, there was Fonda, who shocked the (blank) out of me – okay, I promised not to give anything away. But, suffice to say, she, too, was way above par. As were…the birds! I loved the birds. If nothing else, they'll give you a nice remembrance of Stephen King's The Stand film. (Dang it, there I go again.)

Normally, I would give a synopsis, but again, I really want anyone who has not seen this to experience the joy of the film, the first-rate suspense and the twists and turns. I will commit to this: When one think they're the smartest one in the room…RUN.

I know I'm not giving much away here. Allow me to beg. This movie is nearly flawless (aside from possibly the worst Danny Elfman score – and that's saying a lot from someone who's on par 9.5/10 times) and should be seen by all.

Side Note: Yeah, I get why the score was the way it was…but that didn't stop it from s**king for the most part. There were times it was decent, outside of the main theme, that is. I love a powerful theme that can enhance the film and I hate a distracting score that can usually break it…fortunately, the incredible greatness here forgave the background music. Sorry, Elfman, not everyone can be John Williams.
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7/10
The Fargo of the year
Samiam327 December 2009
Sam Raimi may be most at home with Horror, but his body of work in the last three decades has encompassed a variety of genres, the most intellectual of which is drama. One could argue that a Simple Plan is Raimi's smartest picture but it is not a film where we see any of his distinct auteurism. Equal credit for the film's reasonable competence goes to novelist Scott Smith, adapting his own novel for the screen.

The plot bears some close resemblance to Fargo. One could argue that A Simple Plan is a few steps ahead of the Coen Brothers. It feels far less contrived, and has a bigger heart. Fargo is cold, cynical, but definitely creative. Anyway, that is another movie

Three buddies find a plane wreck in the woods, and inside is a sack containing four million dollars. They agree to keep it hidden until they are convinced that the police are not looking for it. Sounds simple enough, but things get ugly pretty quickly.

I've never thought much for either Bill Paxton or Brigit Fonda, but A Simple Plan shows them at their best, although Billy Bob Thornton's is the most accomplished performance of the movie.

The movie is one worth seeing, it is admirable and thought provoking. There is nothing necessarily unique about it, but then again uniqueness is a rare gift for a movie to have.
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