Review of Foolproof & Stark Raving Mad
By: Jason Bechard

Hey, I Watched This! Reviewing Movies I've watched recently.

Welcome back! No…really…I mean it! Thanks for coming back for more of my ramblings! I really appreciate it! For this month's article, I've decided to revisit a couple of my favorite, "under the radar", heist movies, from the 2000's.

First up, Foolproof (2003), written and directed by William Phillips, and starring Ryan Reynolds (YES, THAT RYAN REYNOLDS), Kristin Booth, Joris Jarsky, and David Suchet.

Here's the IMDB synopsis, "Kevin, Sam and Rob are founding members of a theoretical group which pulls off heists. Leo, a gangster, blackmails them into pulling off a real multi–million dollar heist. Now it's up to them to get out alive."

Right out of the gate, this movie plays with the heist trope of "what you are seeing is not really whats happening". The three friends of their game "Foolproof", meticulously plot a diamond heist. They never actually do it, just plan it! VERY meticulously. Like, "what type of screws are used on the security panel because that's the only way to know which version of the security panel they have to hack?" and "pics or it's not confirmed", meticulous! Such a cool concept. Of course, things go wrong, when a real criminal, also scoping out the same target, spots them, steals their plans, uses them, and then blackmails them into pulling a real job. But in the end, the criminal forgets, they plan for everything! The pacing works beautifully. The the clues and misdirections play out nicely. And, in the end, it comes of as "believeable". OH, and did I mention? It's a completely CANADIAN made flick, which gives it extra points in my book! LOL!

Reynolds circa 2003? All the buzz about this new, wise cracking guy from the sitcom "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place", and then the lead role in National Lampoon's Van Wilder? Yup, there is some of is smart–mouth in this flick, but it's mostly his charisma, and his serious acting chops on display as "Kevin", the de facto leader. Easy to see, this guy is going places. I sure hope he makes it in Hollywood! Everyone in this movie worked well. Booth's "Sam" has the edgy bad–ass chick role, but she's not a total bitch. There's enough soft rookie in there to make her feel "real". Jarsky's "Rob" is the quintessential "whiny tech guy" yearning for a little more, and maybe getting a little too into the game. Or is he? Suchet's "Leo" doesn't look intimidating, but he knows how to push the weaknesses, and keep the pressure on. He is not an "over the top" crime boss, but he has people, and he gets what he wants. Of course, overconfidence is always blinding.

Overall, Foolproof (2003) is a breathe of maple syrup scented, fresh, Canadian air, in a genre that can get a little stuffy. Slightly over the top, but still grounded near reality.

I give Foolproof (2003) 4 stars!

(P.S. I wonder if that Ryan Reynolds guy has done anything lately?)

Next up, Stark Raving Mad (2002), written and directed by Drew Daywalt and David Schneider. Starring Seann William Scott (Stifler from the American Pie movies), an ensemble of kooky characters, and Lou Diamond Phillips as the crime boss.

The IMDB synopsis doesn't really set the stage well, so i'll wing it. "In order to pay off a family debt, Ben has to break into a bank vault, using an after–hours rave party for cover, and employing a crew of misfits. Loud music, recreational drug–use, and explosives…. What could go wrong?"

This flick is weird and quirky fun. The lead character breaks the fourth wall, to describe the situation, and explain their motivations, but it's not overplayed. Ben, having to manage the rave while managing the heist, is balanced nicely. When something goes wrong, of which a lot seems to go wrong, Ben manages to keep it together, barely, and "reshuffle the deck" to keep playing. Yes, I will admit, this movie does go a bit too far with some things (Chad the snake?, undercover FBI agents that seem a little too inept), but sometimes, you have to suspend your disbelief, and just enjoy the party!

The climax/big reveal does get a bit clunky. The timing seems a bit off, and the coincidental circumstances are a bit of a stretch, but the pay off is satisfying.

Seann William Scott circa 2002? Known for being the asshole douche bag Stifler in American Pie, and more recently coming off the "legendary" Dude, Where's My Car?. He takes a dramatic turn here, with only subtle hints to his comedic side, and it works. It was the idea of seeing him in a more serious role, that drew me to this flick in the first place! He proved he could act here. Cool, calm, collected, always thinking, and BADASS, with hints of a weakness for women, Scott played it well. Lou Diamond Phillips looked great as the local crime–boss, Gregory. He had the stereotypical "Boss" look, and played him with the typical, "it's just business" attitude, but you knew he could snap at any moment. Not the normal role for Phillips to that point in his career. It's always good to see an actor breaking away from their usual typecasting. The rest of the cast was great as well. Too many to really discuss here, not many big names. I will say this, as misfit teams go, this crew stands out. Asian hacker girl who is always pissed off. Former rock and roll roadie turned demolitionist. An extremely superstitious safe–cracker with epilepsy. Let's not forget the "interesting" ravers upstairs. It's a zoo of hot, sweaty insanity, which makes for a good night!

Overall, this is another fun and quirky heist flick. It never really takes itself seriously, and that's ok in my books!

I give Stark Raving Mad (2002) 3 stars.

See you next month, Folks!