7.3/10
117,346
345 user 159 critic

Matchstick Men (2003)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Crime, Drama | 12 September 2003 (USA)
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0:30 | Trailer

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A phobic con artist and his protégé are on the verge of pulling off a lucrative swindle when the former's teenage daughter arrives unexpectedly.

Director:

Ridley Scott

Writers:

Eric Garcia (book), Nicholas Griffin (screenplay) (as Nick Griffin) | 1 more credit »
5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Nicolas Cage ... Roy Waller
Sam Rockwell ... Frank Mercer
Alison Lohman ... Angela
Bruce Altman ... Dr. Klein
Bruce McGill ... Chuck Frechette
Jenny O'Hara ... Mrs. Schaffer
Steve Eastin ... Mr. Schaffer
Beth Grant ... Laundry Lady
Sheila Kelley ... Kathy
Fran Kranz ... Slacker Boyfriend
Tim Kelleher ... Bishop
Nigel Gibbs ... Holt
Bill Saito Bill Saito ... Pharmacist #1
Tim Maculan ... Pharmacist #2
Stoney Westmoreland ... Man in Line
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Storyline

Meet Roy and Frank, a couple of professional small-time con artists. What Roy, a veteran of the grift, and Frank, his ambitious protégé, are swindling these days are "water filtration systems," bargain-basement water filters bought by unsuspecting people who pay ten times their value in order to win bogus prizes like cars, jewelry and overseas vacations--which they never collect. These scams net the flim-flam men a few hundred here, another thousand there, which eventually adds up to a lucrative partnership. Roy's private life, however, is not so successful. An obsessive-compulsive agoraphobe with no personal relationships to call his own, Roy is barely hanging on to his wits, and when his idiosyncrasies begin to threaten his criminal productivity he's forced to seek the help of a psychoanalyst just to keep him in working order. While Roy is looking for a quick fix, his therapy begets more than he bargained for: the revelation that he has a teenage daughter--a child whose existence he... Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

lie cheat steal rinse repeat


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, violence, some sexual content and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 September 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Los tramposos See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$62,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,087,307, 14 September 2003, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$36,906,460

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$28,659,212
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ridley Scott's first film for Warner Bros. since Blade Runner (1982). See more »

Goofs

After the first con, the mike is reflected in the car's window when they return to the car. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Roy: Uno, due, tre.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the closing credits, letters such as "M" and "W" are separated lines (presumably matchsticks), much like the type in the main title. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Nostalgia Critic: Alien: Resurrection (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

La Dolce Vita
from La Dolce Vita
Written by Nino Rota
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
A fine brew of psychological character and crime story. A-
15 September 2003 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

Ridley Scott and Nicolas Cage deliver some of their best and most intelligent work in a few years, even if Matchstick Men is not quite either's great contribution for this year in film. What they have done, from Eric Garcia's novel (adapted by The Griffins), come off rather entertaining, if anything else, and boasts much more thought than would usually be attributed to such a Hollywood film. Nicolas Cage, who plays Roy, part anxious/obsessive compulsive, part sly con man, and part father to a daughter he never knew he had, is a main reason to see this movie. His performance is on par with someone like Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets for watch-ability of a truly sad lifestyle, and while Nicholson's performance was and still is funnier and more charming, Cage gets so into his character, the little mannerisms that pop up more often than expected, that we feel for the guy even as his eyes get twitchy and goes over certain spots in his house like a detective. He may be the most believable obsessive compulsive/con man you'll see in a long while. Add then an outgoing, occasionally sneaky daughter (Alison Lohman in a performance that skillfully balances sweetness and irritability, sorrow and playfulness in a teenage girl) to the mix, along with a protégé-cum-partner (a cool Sam Rockwell) who has a love/loathe relationship Roy, and there's the map work for an interesting, if here and there predictable, drama/comedy/crime film.

Along with the performances, which are all above average (Cage could be deserved of an Oscar nomination come February, and Lohman could deserve the win possibly), is the visual framework that Scott pushes in each scene. By getting certain camera tricks, and fantastic editing by Dody Dorn (of 'Memento' fame), the viewer can really get into Roy's head even in the smaller scenes, the ones that have little to do with the plot and only to do with the neuroses of Roy (there is even a little touch that I loved when Roy is waiting online early in the film at the supermarket, and the music in the background is an excerpt of the mental hospital music from 'Cuckoo's Nest'). This echoes the style that Scorsese used in Bringing out the Dead, also with Cage, in moving the film to get so into the mood that the story, no matter how intriguing and important, becomes secondary.

Which brings me to my own personal beef with the movie, and that is the last fifteen minutes or so. It was clever, up to a point, but as it unfolded, no matter how much I was still emotionally involved with these people, I felt that the twists (I won't reveal them here) undermined a lot of the rest of the film. It will be based on viewer to viewer, but I just thought that it did a little too much to jab at Roy's lifestyle. And yet, when I walked out of the theater, though I wasn't sure I had seen anything spectacular, I didn't feel like I had wasted time and money either. Matchstick Men is witty, sometimes wonderful moviemaking.


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