Masterminds Parent Guide
Families may find the film's overall message of turning a criminal act into a lighthearted farce to be the biggest reason to forgo this robbery dramatization.
Parent Movie Review
Wow. What movie isn’t based on a true story these days? Yes, I’m used to seeing that claim at the beginning of sports films, dramas and political thrillers, but a crime comedy? Surprisingly a brief check of the facts reveals many of the plot points in this crazy caper are indeed based on the 1997 $17 million heist that was one of the largest robberies in US history. Even the names of most of the major players haven’t been changed. But, of course, much of the shtick is pure fiction.
David Ghantt (played by Zach Galifianakis) is a bit of a simpleton who drives an armored truck for Loomis-Fargo. Despite being engaged to Jandice (Kate McKinnon), a self-absorbed woman anxious to have full control over her man, he is immediately distracted by his new driving partner Kelly (Kirsten Wiig). A live-life-to-the-max girl, Kelly hardly gets her foot in the door of her new job when she somewhat jokingly suggests the two of them should plan a robbery. Not one to bend the rules, let alone burn the entire employee manual, David says no way.
A few weeks later Kelly tells off her boss (Matt Corboy) and, after tossing her gun on the floor and almost shooting him, the disgruntled employee is sent packing. Needing a place to land, she starts hanging out with her old friends, Steve and Michelle (Owen Wilson and Mary Elizabeth Ellis). The have-not couple are looking to move up the economic ladder as quickly and easily as possible. So they begin questioning Kelly about the ins and outs of the armored car business. Their conversation ends with Kelly conniving to use David’s obvious attraction for her as a way to manipulate him into helping them empty the money out of the local Loomis Fargo’s warehouse.
Sure enough, David takes the blonde’s come-hither bait and, against his better judgement, finds himself part of the gang. His job is to do the dirty work of loading a ton of cash into the back of a van. Once the deed is complete, David is sent to Mexico with $25,000 packed in his underwear, and a promise of more funds to come. Kelly also commits to later joining him in his new life. However, Steve, the ringleader, has other plans. These include spending a wad of the loot on a mansion, toys and clothes. Oh, and a hitman to make sure David, whom Steve assumes is the FBI’s only suspect, never has a chance to reveal the rest of the story.
The best parts of this yarn are, not surprisingly, the ones that are true. The gaudy lifestyle Steve and Michelle immerse themselves in is accurately portrayed—right down to the black velvet Elvis painting. Galifianakis’s slapstick moments and the chemistry between cast members provide some funny moments as well. Not as humorous is the depiction of the killer for hire (Jason Sudeikis), whose sadistic style is the invention of the scriptwriters. With the details of the actual story being so incredulous, it’s unfortunate this production wastes so much screen time on made-up details, along with sexual and scatological humor.
Even with the tawdry content and the tortuous intentions of the assassin, parents may find the overall message of turning a criminal act into a lighthearted farce to be the biggest deal breaker of all. In a closing scene, Galifianakis’s David Ghantt expresses his appreciation for the character development he has gained because he took a risk with his life. Considering that in reality he has done jail time and still owes a large monetary debt to the government, this movie makes a blundered robbery look like an attractive adventure.
Directed by Jared Hess. Starring Kristen Wiig, Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis. Running time: 94 minutes. Theatrical release September 30, 2016. Updated July 17, 2017
Rating & Content Info
Why is Masterminds rated PG-13? Masterminds is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for crude and sexual humor, some language and violence.
Violence:Criminal activity is glamorized and trivialized. Most of the violence is humorously depicted. TV, movie and news footage shows acts of crime, violence and armed robberies. Guns are used at target practice and as weapons: non-serious injury, accidental death, explosions and property damage result. A man steals money from his employer. Conspirators in a heist betray each other. Vehicles are involved in chases and crashes. A man on rollerblades hangs onto the back of a moving truck. Police officers and FBI agents track and chase wanted criminals. Fist-fights and brawls break out, once between two women. A hitman is hired who discusses his preference for killing in cruel ways. A knife is shown and the intent to murder and cut up the victim is mentioned. Bloody teeth are seen, which have supposedly been tortuously pulled out of a man’s mouth. A cut off ear is shown. A character buys guns from an illegal arms dealer. A character is kidnapped and held prisoner. Characters are bound and gagged with duct tape. A character is bitten by a fish.
Sexual Content: A woman wears revealing clothing and her bra is seen when she takes off her shirt. She also uses her womanly wiles to persuade a man to do her bidding. Crass humor, along with crude sexual language, references and innuendo are frequently heard. Flatulence and a diarrhea episode in a pool are depicted. A woman hides money in a man’s underwear. Prostitutes are portrayed. Women’s health issues are discussed. Characters kiss and embrace. A woman is accused of being a mistress and one of the reasons for a broken engagement.
Language: The script includes crude slang words for body parts and derogatory slurs, as well as a few mild and moderate profanities, and terms of deity. An abbreviation referencing a strong sexual expletive is used.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Alcohol is seen at home and at parties. A discouraged character carries a bottle of beer and appears drunken.
Other: A character eats a tarantula.
Page last updated July 17, 2017
More parents' guide for Masterminds after the break...
Masterminds Parents' Guide
Steve and Michelle Chambers really did have a difficult time fitting into the high end gated community where they bought their huge house with stolen funds. Details of life in the neighborhood leading up to the FBI raid are chronicled in the local Gaston Gazette newspaper.
News About "Masterminds"
Read about the real story that inspired the Masterminds script.
From the Studio: In this action comedy based on true events, directed by Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite; Nacho Libre), David Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis) discovers the true meaning of adventure far beyond his wildest dreams. He is an uncomplicated man stuck in a monotonous life. Day in and day out he drives an armored vehicle, transporting millions of other people's money with no escape in sight. The only glimmer of excitement is his flirtatious work crush Kelly Campbell (Kristen Wiig) who soon lures him into the scheme of a lifetime. Along with a group of half-brained criminals led by Steve Chambers (Owen Wilson) and an absurdly faulted heist plan, David manages the impossible and makes off with $17 million in cash...only problem is he foolishly hands the money over to this wild group of double crossers and has been set up to take the fall. With the bandits blowing the millions on lavish and ridiculous luxuries, they leave behind a glaring trail of evidence. Now on the lam and in over his head, David must dodge the authorities, evade a hilarious hit man, Mike McKinney (Jason Sudeikis), and try to turn the tables on the ones he trusted most. © Relativity
The most recent home video release of Masterminds movie is January 31, 2017. Here are some details…
Home Video Notes: Masterminds
Release Date: 31 January 2017
Masterminds releases to home video (Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack) with the following special features:
- The Imperfect Crime