Bandits (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Bandits is the new film about the "Sleepover Bandits", a laid-back modernization of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, although Billy Bob Thornton is somewhat less charismatic than Robert Redford. Actually, that's unfair to Redford, since Billy Bob is only slightly more charismatic than General Noriega. 

Although Noreiga was a little better looking.

By the way, if you are assembling a list of the most irritating performances ever, and you were really impressed with Tom Green in Freddy Got Fingered, you'll also enjoy Billy Bob here. 

Graham Greene once wrote of the "baseless optimism that is so much more appalling than despair". If there's anything more appalling than baseless optimism, it's people trying to be funny and failing. That's the story with this movie. Picture, if you will, Hugh Grant, a man who walks around in a constant state of self-bemusement. He is, in fact, so convinced of his own cleverness, that he can actually convince other people he is being clever. The problem is that they gather around later and ask - "what did he say again?" It turns out that the wit is all style, no substance. Hugh figures if he acts like Oscar Wilde, people will think he is. And it works.


none. There is a glimpse of a small part of Cate Blanchett's butt as she rolls over in bed with Willis.
This movie follows the same path. It is people saying things that they think are funny (or the screenwriter thinks so). We know that only because, like Hugh Grant, they are using a kind of delivery that says "I am being funny. Nudge, nudge" rather than "my mom just died". But almost nothing works, and the few things that did work are in the previews, so if you've seen the trailer, you can skip the film. 

And, Jiminy, how long is this thing? It must be in real time.

Oh, I guess there are a few funny things. The one thing I thought was sort of funny was the list of various items feared by Billy Bob Thornton's paranoid, neurotic, hypochondriac character. He's afraid of antique furniture, for one thing. I thought this was a creative piece of absurdist humor until I read that they thought of this because the real Billy Bob Thornton is afraid of antique furniture. 

The best false phobia I have ever heard of is my dad's facetious contention that he is afraid of widths. The whole concept cracked me up when I was a kid, and it still seems engagingly silly. Personally, I have never been able to understand fear at all, because I am afraid of only two things: boysenberries and string quintets, and I don't see much of either. Interestingly, I can face a string quartet with courage, and have no theoretical fear of a string sextet. 

still in theaters
The reviewer for summed up my thoughts about this film so perfectly and wrote it so eloquently, that I linked to his review (below) rather than saying the same things in different words

By the way, the film got 60% positive reviews and is rated 7.2 at IMDb, so I'm one of the few who thought it was drippy.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: two and a half stars. Ebert 2/4, Berardinelli 2.5/4

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 60% positive reviews, but only 44% from the top people.

  • In my opinion, the reviewer at got it exactly right

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it a very solid 7.2 
  • With their dollars ... it looks like it will be a loser. Made for a bloated 80 million dollars, it has grossed $25 million in its first two weeks, on a blockbuster-level 3200 screens.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C. Sorta OK movie, way below the level expected from the talent employed.

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