Two convicts, one charismatic (Willis) and the other a hypochondriac (Thornton), break out of prison and immediately start a bank robbing spree, kidnapping bank managers, spending the night with their families, then going with the managers in the morning to rob the banks. Using a dim-witted stunt man as their getaway driver and lookout, the three successfully pull off several jobs (even gaining the attention of a television show about American criminals), and become known as "The Sleepover Bandits." Things are going great until the bank managers begin to realize that the robbers are non-violent and therefore no threat to them or their employees, changing the game for the Bandits. To add to the complications, a bored & unhappy housewife (Blanchett) ends up in the hands of the criminals, and begins to have romantic feelings for both Willis and Thornton, causing a sticky love triangle. Written by
John Sacksteder <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Val Kilmer was originally considered for the part of Joe, and Bruce Willis was originally going to play the part of Terry, but due to scheduling conflicts, Kilmer backed out, and Willis took over the part of Joe. See more »
When Terry and Joe arrive at a bankers house and announce to the banker that they are going to rob his bank, the banker faints (or spontaneously falls asleep due to narcolepsy). You can see the corner of the mat that he falls on. See more »
Do you smell burning feathers?
Joe's older brother, Albert. He smelled burning feathers. He had a brain tumor.
Joe doesn't have an older brother.
See more »
Energetic, romantic fun. Works wonderfully. ***1/2 (out of four)
BANDITS / (2001) ***1/2 (out of four)
Barry Levinson's clever romantic comedy Bandits makes stealing money look fun and simple. I can see it now: young, influential criminals holding up entire banks with magic markers. Certain things in this movie make such perfect sense, we wonder why nobody's thought of them before.
Even the casting makes perfect sense. Who better to play a handsome, spontaneous ladies man than Bruce Willis? And who could portray an intelligent, hypochondriac better than Billy Bob Thornton? Together, these two characters make the perfect man. Of course, it's only a matter of time before a woman becomes involved and finds herself split between the two.
But Bandits is anything but your average run-of-the-mill romantic comedy. Willis and Thornton play Joe Blake and Terry Collins, two criminals in a high security prison. As the movie opens, they escape from prison in such a way that probably makes the other prisoners hit themselves on the head and ask "Why didn't I think of that?"
Just as soon as they switch getaway cars, Joe and Terry rob a bank to finance their upcoming adventures. After hooking up with an old friend of Joe's, a wannabe stuntman played by Troy Garity, the criminals devise a foolproof plan to rob banks: they take the bank manager hostage the night before a heist, sleep over at his house, then go into the bank with him the next morning before business hours. No unexpected holdups. No complications. Just take the money and leave before the first customer arrives.
The Joe and Terry dream of escaping to a tropical location and opening a margarita bar. Their success as bank robbers eventually puts them at the top of the FBI's most wanted list. Things become even more complicated when Kate Wheeler (Cate Blanchett) runs into one of the crooks and wants to become a part of their lifestyle. When she falls in love with both men, the situation really starts to heat up.
Oscar-winner Barry Levinsion gives Bandits a humble sense of reality. He doesn't place Joe and Terry on a pedestal and treat them like superheroes; he actually opens the film revealing their presumed demise. Although in interviews he explains that he was initially unsure how to handle the material, his uncertainty does not show in the final production. He has found the perfect blend of romance, action, and comedy to satisfy all tastes and styles.
Bandits opens with a bookend revealing parts of the film's finale. This doesn't really work. Normally, this technique is used when a movie is more about a journey than what actually happens at the end. Although Bandits is indeed more about a journey, the movie's structure does not support such an opening. It doesn't provide us with enough information to work effectively, and, after a final twist at the very end, this technique seems pointless since it doesn't reveal the actual ending, anyway.
Nonetheless, Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, and Cate Blanchett deliver fine performances, forming a charismatic, unlikely love triangle. Troy Garity, gleeful and eccentric, steals all of his scenes in memorable supporting role. Despite the various structural flaws, the cast alone is enough to redeem Bandits as an above average comic adventure. It's one of the year's most fun surprises.
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