Stealing Sinatra (2003) Poster

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Goofier than fiction
Nozz8 April 2003
Forty years ago when Frank Sinatra Jr. was kidnapped, those who read the story weren't sure how seriously to take it. Intentionally or unintentionally, this movie captures the uneasiness. Sinatra Jr. is portrayed as a hapless dweeb, his kidnappers as quixotic eccentrics. An excellent soundtrack featuring period music serves to distance us from the whole 1960s setting. But other touches, particularly James Russo's brief appearances as Sinatra Sr., give a powerful believability to the family's victimization.
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Fly Me to the Moron
rooprect2 January 2015
Sinatra: "What do you want? A million dollars?"

Kidnapper: "That's not going to do it. We want $240 thousand."


"Stealing Sinatra" is a quiet little comedy about a bunch of dimwits trying to pull off a heist that's way out of their league. As straightforward entertainment, it's interesting & funny enough to keep you amused from start to finish. But for my money, I enjoyed it on a deeper level that tells the story of America's impending loss of innocence in the mid 60s following the single greatest wake up slap of the 20th century: the public assassination of President JFK. (And soon after, the public assassination of his accused assassin.)

But that would come later. This movie is a clever snapshot of American life on the verge of a serious reality check. There are no bullet-blazing gun battles, no violent beatings and splashes of blood across the screen, no dark gritty angst and political subversion. The main criminal mastermind doesn't even curse (aside from hissing "oh... sugar!" when things go afoul). By today's standards, this would be the most boring caper ever. But that's precisely what makes it so interesting.

David Arquette is perfect as "Barry", the criminal mastermind who looks like he'd be more natural selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. William H. Macy is also perfectly cast as "Mr. Irwin" the confused, fatherly voice of reason, alternately dishing out Confucian wisdom and coaching Barry on how to be a better criminal. The supporting characters, Ryan Browning as criminal #3 "Joe", Thomas Ian Nicholas as the young deer-in-the- headlights kidnappee "Sinatra Jr." and of course a very convincing James Russo as Old Blue Eyes himself, make this a real treat to watch.

Like I said, don't expect a crime caper thrill ride of any sort. While there are some good suspenseful moments, the real attraction of this film is in its subtle, humorous portrayal of American innocence, even in the midst of a felony. A unique cross between "Suicide Kings" and "The Brady Bunch", this is a very human story that could practically serve as a cultural document... if anyone cared. As the opening titles go: "In 1963, an event happened that rocked the nation. This is not that event. But it really did happen."
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PersianPlaya4086 August 2006
Underwoods goofy story about a young man(Arquette) who convinces his friends that they should kidnap Frank Sinatra Jr. (Nicholas). The film is written ridiculously, direction is odd, dialogues are out of place and scrambled, the actors didn't do it much justice either, Arquette is annoying throughout, Ian Nicholas was nonexistent, Macy was decent, but only because hes a pretty good actor and probably just tried his best not to come out of this project with a totally embarrassing performance, he was at least tolerable. This is a stupid film in my eyes, boring at times, not entertaining, just a film that i wouldn't recommend to anybody. IMDb Rating: 5.5, my rating: 4/10
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A good movie
DaveyandCeCe22 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I am a fan of David Arquette, so that is the reason I saw this movie. I didn't really know what to expect, I read other peoples reviews, which weren't the best. However, I think people were being much to critical with this movie. I think that the performances given were great, and believable. The movie was shown in the kidnappers point of view, which in a true story, is very rare. Personally, I think that the performances of the criminals were yes bumbling, but that is simply because the actual criminals were. If you are a fan of someone in this movie, you will enjoy it. This is the type of movie that you watch just to watch and have fun.
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Andrew_Bassett3 January 2004
Warning: Spoilers
(Only light spoilers in here)

Stealing Sinatra is a half-slapstick comedy about dimwit kidnappers, dimwit victims, and a few other side-stories thrown in to eat up some time.

You will see some poor performances all around in this movie. The drama is forced, and the humor makes no sense. Whether you're watching the kidnappers threaten the victim who won't shut up, or a victim's father responding to the criminal's death threat with "Care for some tea?", none of it is believable. This quite comfortably fits into the "wannabe movie" category.

You will also be listening to a repetitive goofy music track throughout pretty much the entire movie. It's quite unprofessional, and adds nothing. It's really just a sad attempt at making an achingly unfunny movie seem somewhat witty.

However, if you're able to look past all of this and suspend a lot of disbelief, you might be entertained by the adequate storyline.

I voted 4/10.
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Recruited From The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight
bkoganbing13 October 2010
How well I remember the kidnapping of Frank Sinatra, Jr. which followed closely on the wake of JFK's assassination. At the time I kept thinking why of all celebrities would someone choose Frank Sinatra's family to victimize with all of that man's legal and extralegal resources?

Yet three rejects from the gang that couldn't shoot straight actually did that incredible deed which fortunately for them, no harm, no foul and they all got incredibly early paroles. But the story of their trials and jail sentences is not told in this film.

One factual error that was made was that the strategy of claiming that the whole thing was a publicity hoax that young Sinatra was in on was one used by their defense attorney later on at trial. The three perpetrators didn't claim that right away.

Other than that, William H. Macy, David Arquette, and Ryan Browning are the three kidnappers in a story that sticks pretty factually close to the events as they happen. James Russo does a fine job playing the senior Sinatra, it's like seeing Old Blue Eyes himself. Fortunately the role did not call for singing like Sinatra.

Showtime produced this film for their network and the plot centered around David Arquette playing Barry Keenan the organizer of the plot. His rather amoral character is gone into somewhat, the other two roles of John Irwin (William H. Macy) and Joe Amsler (Ryan Browning) are left kind of up in the air by the script.

Stealing Sinatra is a factual retelling of one of the strangest events of the Sixties. A bit above average for a made for TV film.
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Unsung Gem
dhmason615513 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This movie isn't for everybody, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. It probably helped that I grew up in the L.A. area, and the San Fernando valley in particular (I've been to Canoga Park, and driven down Sherman Way!). I loved the way they evoked the Southern CA surf culture, and especially the surf music, of the early 60's. I've always been a big a fan of that era. And has anyone noticed how prevalent 60's surf music still is today? You hear it constantly on TV commercials and in the media. The pre-counterculture 60's period detail in this movie was excellent: clothing, cars, houses, hairstyles etc. It's an almost overlooked time in our history and culture. (As a former valley-boy, I was amazed to see on the end credits that this was filmed in Vancouver B.C!). The real-life story here is no secret. The fun of this movie is in the journey, not the destination. I'm glad they chose to make it as an almost surreal, truth-stranger-than-fiction comedy. This is serious subject matter, but it would have been a total flop as a straight ahead drama. The thrill was in getting to know the perpetrators and in the realization that they were really just regular, likable guys (guys I might have hung out with at one time) doing incredibly stupid things and getting in deeper and deeper. Of course the glue that held the whole thing together was David Arquette. You can have fun just watching him think. I've followed him, on and off, since the Scream movies, and he just gets interestinger and interestinger. I was mesmerized watching him go from friendly to scheming to salesman to wounded in the time it took to light a cigarette. Bill Macy also added depth and dimension to the whole affair and provided a solid foundation for Arquette to stand on. For me, this is an excellent low budget gem, and a movie I never get tired of watching.
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Actually Enjoyable
FlickersRULE10 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Just saw this and it's not as bad as others make it out to be.

Yes, Arquette is a minor weak link but otherwise this film has a lot of good things going for it - and frankly I think how the kidnappers is portrayed adds to the realism of the film - I mean you have to be either dumb or crazy to try something like this - or both.

Ebert and Roeper gave it two thumbs up and I can see why - it was refreshing to see a story like this told from a lighter angle rather than the melodramatic stance it usually is.

Undoubtedly those who didn't "get" the Arquette character missed the flaws in personality which Arquette did portray well... the guy has a screw loose and is as Macy says, "in waaaaay over his head".

As far as the directing being a little clunky, I do have to agree, although perhaps its suits this somewhat unconventional storyline. All in all, It was enjoyable until the end, nevertheless it gets 7 stars because it was a little rough around the edges.
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Useless roll of film
rupture1023 December 2005
I don't know where to begin. Perhaps the whole idea of this movie was just a disaster waiting to happen. There is nothing slightly humorous about a kidnapping. I don't know what was more offensive--the subject matter or David Arquette's "performance". It was like watching a bull get it's penis cut off, although I think the bull felt better afterwards. The filmmakers should find something about Sinatra other than his son's kidnapping to show (like, I don't know, his TALENT AS A SINGER!!!!). His family shouldn't have to relive that horror. Thank GOD it was just shown on HBO and not released in theaters. Please don't watch this if you have any self respect.
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