Review: Flypaper (Sundance)
PLOT: A group of hostages are caught between two rival gangs, both of whom are trying to rob the same bank.
REVIEW: Without a doubt, FLYPAPER was the single dumbest film I caught at this year's edition of the Sundance Film Festival. A last minute addition to the sched, FLYPAPER strikes me as the type of film that was only included to give the last weekend of the fest a bit of star-power, as most A-listers seemed to have left town by this point. The A-lister involved with this film happened to be none other than Dr. McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey.
Now, I'll bet a lot of you are wondering why I'd bother go so something starring Dempsey, who's biggest claim to fame other than GREY'S ANATOMY over the last few years was the dreadful MAID OF HONOR. Truth be told, I think Dempsey's got the makings of a fine leading man, provided he find the right vehicle. For proof, one need only look at two of the films that made him a heartthrob in the late eighties; CAN'T BUY ME LOVE, and RUN. I enjoyed both of those films immensely as a youngster, and on paper, FLYPAPER sounded like a nifty change of pace for Dempsey, with him playing a normal guy caught in the middle of a huge bank heist.
Sadly, things totally fall apart, right from the first frame. The movie stars off with a Saul Bass-style title sequence, that's cute, but seemed like it was trying a little too hard to establish a retro caper-tone, that's hard to pull off unless you happen to be Shane Black, and the movie is KISS KISS BANG BANG. Needless to say, this is no KISS KISS BANG BANG.
In fact, the film this comes closest to is the recent OPERATION: ENDGAME, where you have all of these quirky characters, each of whom is trying to play everyone else, locked up in close quarters. Dempsey's supposed to be the everyman, but for some boneheaded reason, the decision was made to have him prone to anxiety attacks. That might have worked for Gene Wilder in the seventies, but Dempsey a really bad fit for this kind of role. Perhaps if some effort had been made to make him a little less movie-star handsome, it might have worked, but no dice. Instead, we get him breaking out into non-convincing anxiety attacks, with nary a hair out of place, while lounging around in a “too cool” leather jacket. Also, I found it puzzling that his character, the minute the robbery begins, immediately tries to save the day. If he's supposed to be this anxiety-ridden head case, he should have been more of a fish out of water. Instead, he tries to make like Bruce Willis, by crawling around air-vents, and romancing pretty bank teller Ashley Judd.
I probably could have forgiven the massive lapses in logic if the film had been entertaining, or at least had some good action scenes, but even on that score, it was a let down. Director Rob Minkoff (THE LION KING, THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM) tries to make this a cutesy comedic take on THE USUAL SUSPECTS with a boneheaded twist about half-way through, but instead it just totally sabotages what could have been an OK heist comedy. The only halfway decent things about FLYPAPER are Tim Blake Nelson, and Pruitt Taylor Vince as the idiotic hillbilly bank robbers, who try to rob the bank at the same time a high-tech team headed by Mekhi Phifer hit the place. Nelson and Vince are OK, but even they are powerless to save the film. This is especially true when they get paired with henchman Matt Ryan, who plays the requisite English baddie; who occasionally pauses amid the heist to check his standing on the FBI's most wanted bank robbers list.
I really loathed FLYPAPER, and it feels like the type of film that's headed to a $4 DVD bin at Wal-Mart rather than see any kind of theatrical release. It's painfully unfunny, and the type of immediately disposable junk one wouldn't expect to see on cable, much less the Sundance Film Festival. Of everything I've seen at this year's fest, this was the only film that really felt like it didn't belong.