447 user 119 critic

A Simple Plan (1998)

Three blue-collar acquaintances come across millions of dollars in lost cash and make a plan to keep their find from the authorities, but it isn't long before complications and mistrust weave their way into the plan.


Sam Raimi


Scott B. Smith (novel), Scott B. Smith (screenplay)
4,222 ( 769)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 16 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Bill Paxton ... Hank
Bridget Fonda ... Sarah
Billy Bob Thornton ... Jacob
Brent Briscoe ... Lou
Jack Walsh Jack Walsh ... Tom Butler
Chelcie Ross ... Carl
Becky Ann Baker ... Nancy Chambers
Gary Cole ... Baxter
Bob Davis ... FBI Agent Renkins
Peter Syvertsen ... FBI Agent Freemont
Tom Carey Tom Carey ... Dwight Stephanson
John Paxton ... Mr. Schmitt
Marie Mathay Marie Mathay ... News Reporter
Paul Magers Paul Magers ... Anchorman
Joan Steffand Joan Steffand ... Anchorwoman


Three diverse characters, for the most part intellectually challenged, find a deserted plane with a bag full of millions of dollars inside. They devise a simple plan to keep the money if no-one claims it. Ofcourse, nothing turns out simple... Written by Filmtwob <webmaster@filmfreak.co.za>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Sometimes good people do evil things. See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Scott B. Smith originally conceived his story as a screenplay but decided to turn it into a novel first before writing a screenplay based on that. See more »


In an early scene, the Mitchells appear to look straight out their bedroom window to watch Jacob's pickup coming up the driveway, but a later outdoor shot of the house shows no front window that would provide quite that same view; further, the front windows are a different style. See more »


[first lines]
Hank Mitchell: [narrating] When I was still just a kid, I remember my father telling me what he thought that it took for a man to be happy. Simple things, really. A wife he loves, a decent job, friends and neighbors who like and respect him. And for a while there, without hardly even realizing it, I had all that. I was a happy man.
See more »


Referenced in Special Report (2014) See more »


Deliver Me
Written by Christina Schlieske
Performed by Tina & the B-Sides
Courtesy of Sire Records Group
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

User Reviews

What a nightmare...
28 June 2001 | by billybrown41See all my reviews

I thought that I was desensitized. Having seen so many movies, I was actually ignorant enough to think that nothing could shock or disturb me anymore. Boy, was I ever wrong. Horror is my favorite genre and while this isn't a "horror" flick it is still pretty damn horrifying. Two things drew me to this movie. Billy Bob Thornton was the first. I have followed his career steadily since he gained recognition with Sling Blade and the man has not let me down. Second reason, Sam Raimi. He is an icon among horror film buffs and up and coming film students. The Evil Dead trilogy showcased his talents with the brilliant camera work and his somewhat warped sense of vision.

A Simple Plan tells the story of three regular guys who find a suitcase full of money in a downed airplane. Assuming the money is drug money, they figure that no one will notice if they keep it. The "plan" does start off simple. Hank (Bill Paxton), his brother Jacob (Billy Bob), and Jacob's idiot, loser, drunk friend Lou (Brent Briscoe) decide that to hang on to the money for six months. If it's not missed by Spring, they will split the cash between them and go their seperate ways. Things seem fine at first, with Hank as the natural leader, but soon all goes to hell once greed sets in and morals start to fly out the window. It's all down hill from here.

While the plot may be simple, what really makes this thing work is the characters. All three of the leads are totally believable in their roles. Hank could be easily be a friend of yours, Jacob could be the guy behind you in the checkout line at the grocery store, and Lou could be the town drunk you see walking on the side of the road.

This is a character movie. Simple story, complex characters and their reaction to a seemingly easy situation. Billy Bob Thornton became so devoted to playing his role, he shed 30lbs to play Jacob. You can tell that a lot of the pain you see in Jacob's eyes is not just acting. The actor has truly felt this guy's pain. Playing this role was NOT easy on the guy and (in my opinion) he should have gotten that Oscar.

Bill Paxton is wonderful as Hank. He has the look and feel of that guy (every town in America has at least one) who had so much potential, but never left his home town. He is the brains and the moral center of the three.

Brent Briscoe (Scooter Hodges from "Sling Blade") plays the part of Lou. Lou is the best friend of Jacob and the town drunk. Although many would argue that it is Jacob's fault, much of the trouble that comes their way is brought on by Lou's ignorance. He is a thoroughly annoying and disgusting character and Briscoe did a fine job with the part considering how likeable he was in Sling Blade.

I'm not going to give away any more of what happens. Earlier I described this movie as horrifying. It is. Why? The characters are all people we could actually know. No, this isn't a horror flick, but decent, ordinary people can turn into monsters at the drop of a hat. Disregard Leonard Maltin's review (with all do respect) where he says that the "transformation of the characters simply does not ring true." It does and I've seen it happen. The movie is, in no way, as harsh and cold as the book but the point is still made. 9/10

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Release Date:

22 January 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Thousand Miles See more »

Filming Locations:

Ashland, Wisconsin, USA See more »


Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$390,563, 13 December 1998

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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