7.0/10
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168 user 175 critic

American Animals (2018)

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Four young men mistake their lives for a movie and attempt one of the most audacious heists in U.S. history.

Director:

Bart Layton

Writer:

Bart Layton
Reviews
Popularity
1,118 ( 355)
6 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Spencer Reinhard Spencer Reinhard ... The Real Spencer Reinhard
Warren Lipka Warren Lipka ... The Real Warren Lipka
Eric Borsuk Eric Borsuk ... The Real Eric Borsuk
Chas Allen ... The Real Chas Allen
Betty Jean Gooch Betty Jean Gooch ... The Real Betty Jean 'BJ' Gooch (as Betty Jean 'BJ' Gooch)
Evan Peters ... Warren
Blake Jenner ... Chas
Barry Keoghan ... Spencer
Jared Abrahamson ... Eric
Eddie King Eddie King ... Male Art Professor
Karen Wheeling Reynolds Karen Wheeling Reynolds ... Female Art Professor (as Karen Reynolds)
James Rackley ... Active
Drew Starkey ... Frat Boy
Anthony J. Police ... Man with Gun
Ann Dowd ... Betty Jean 'BJ' Gooch
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Storyline

In this crime drama, four bright and well-off college students in Kentucky plot to steal some rare books from their university's Special Collections Library in a misguided quest for personal glory. Based on the story, the film includes interviews with the foursome who attempted the bizarre heist. Starring Barry Keoghan, Evan Peters, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson and Ann Dowd.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The perfect heist is a work of fiction. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language throughout, some drug use and brief crude/sexual material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | Dutch

Release Date:

14 August 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

American Animals See more »

Filming Locations:

Charlotte, North Carolina, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$134,793, 3 June 2018, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,856,954, 30 August 2018
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2:39:1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Though most of the filming took place in Charlotte, all of the library scenes were filmed in Davidson College's library over the course of spring break, 2017. Every member of the library staff sent in their head shots to be cast in the film, but none of them made it onscreen. See more »

Goofs

At the end of the movie, when it is explaining what each character is up to now, the text says that Charles Allen II is "writing a book on prison workout regimes." It should be "regimens". A "regime" refers to governments or periods of rule, whereas a "regimen" refers to exercise or any other scheduled activity. See more »

Quotes

Eric Borsuk: How can I tell you if I'm in or I'm out without telling me the first thing about what I might be in or out of.
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Connections

References Heist (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Hurdy Gurdy Man
Words and Music by Donovan (as Donovan Leitch)
Performed by Donovan
(c) 1968 by Donovan (Music) Ltd.
Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment Inc.
Licensed by Sony Music Entertainment UK Ltd. for the World excluding the UK & Republic of Ireland & Courtesy of The State51 Conspiracy Ltd.
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User Reviews

 
A fresh new vision of a weary genre
14 September 2018 | by rorymarsh00See all my reviews

'American Animals' is, formally, a difficult film to describe. It retains the structure of the heist films that came before it, even referencing them from time to time, cementing it as a disciple of those pioneers. Where the film stands out, however, is in the way it tells its story, in a non-linear fashion that seamlessly blends between the reality and fiction of this true-crime narrative. Whereas documentaries often use dramatisations to help visually realise their subject matter, here, these dramatisations take centre stage, supported by the painfully real inflections of those who were actually involved in this 2004 heist. This conflux, use to provide commentary, as well as irregular but welcome flair within the recreated narrative, help to differentiate 'American Animals' from other films of its pedigree. Furthermore, these aforementioned recreations feature standout performances from the likes of Evan Peters and Barry Keoghan, further distancing Layton's film from the somewhat shabby predecessors that deploy similar techniques. On a technical level, the film is fairly regular, lacking inspiration with its cinematography which arguably helps ground the events which it portrays. The score nicely compliments the action on-screen, effectively building upon the tension set up by the visuals. The film can, however, drag in places, particularly during the first act, whereupon it hits familiar story beats that could have been addressed quicker, the time taken with the set-up juxtaposing the otherwise revolutionary approach the film takes to the heist formula. Otherwise, the third act is nothing short of thrilling, with the conclusion proving a melancholic reminder of the reality of these events, and the impact they can carry, with its audacity to allow the audience to decipher the difference between what is true and false. 'American Animals' is a heist film through and through, but differentiates itself from others through the methods by which its tells its story and provides connections between the characters and audience. Whilst the pacing can prove problematic at times, persistence ultimately proves rewarding. Should Layton continue to adopt this unique approach to other genres, he may become a standout in years to come.


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