‘A Bad Idea Gone Wrong’ gets a lot right
Written and directed by: Jason Headley
Starring: Matt Jones, Will Rogers and Eleanore Pienta
“A Bad Idea Gone Wrong” – Driving to the airport with the needle on “E”.
Buying a box of Girl Scout Thin Mints in the middle of your diet and promising yourself that you will only eat one a day.
Bringing a talkative toddler to a Rated-R movie.
What do these three actions have in common? They are all bad, bad ideas.
Well, Leo (Will Rogers) and Marlon (Matt Jones) raise the bad idea-bar, because they are planning a heist. Yes, while dining on warm breakfasts in a cozy diner, these two 30-somethings - with penchants for just skating by in life – have hoped and wished to pull a caper for a long time. Perhaps, years. Since, Leo and Marlon are a pair of slackers, they - quite naturally - have been procrastinating with their big plans of thiefdom, but one of these lifelong friends finally has a lightbulb flicker above his head. Leo pitches that they rob a house, one particularly large home in a gated community.
Without asking too many questions, Marlon buys in, and these two men, who have never committed a major crime, are going to rob a house. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, writer/director Jason Headley gets a lot right in his first feature film. “A Bad Idea Gone Wrong” is a clever, little comedy with a big indie feel. Cinematically, Headley does not offer prodigal set designs or several, eye-popping locations, as the home in question constitutes the setting for the vast majority of the picture. Additionally (and admittedly), some of the plot points can be seen coming from miles away, but the enjoyable performances from the perfectly-casted actors and a consistently witty script playing over 1 hour and 25 minutes make Headley’s very good idea come to life on the big screen.
Rogers and Jones play best friends on-screen, but they share solid comedic chemistry as if they have been forever-buddies off-screen. Leo and Marlon perform with a conversational Abbott and Costello vibe, as they can almost finish each other’s sentences after listening to the same yarns and rolling their eyes over familiar complaints over the years. For instance, everything – such as chocolate chip pancakes – reminds Leo of his ex-fiancée, and he never misses an opportunity to voice a new torturous observation. Meanwhile, Marlon could write a thesis on his never-ending list of shortcomings, including the need to wear SPF infinity when spending time in the sun.
Now, if these two correctly focused their energy, they could have invented the new Chia Pet or Thighmaster and made millions by now. Instead, they embark on a half-baked robbery attempt that immediately becomes dicey within the first few minutes inside the home in question. Their plan, however, further grinds into mincemeat, when an unexpected third party unwittingly crashes their robbery. Darcy (Eleanore Pienta) – street-smart and attractive – offers a quick talking, feminine element within the enclosed, 4,000 square foot space that rattles our heroes in a “Home Alone”-like way. Without falling irons and swinging paint cans, of course.
Leo and Marlon’s straight man/comic relief act and the reveal of the home owners’ connection to them deliver fun intrigue on their own, but Darcy’s introduction and mix bring welcome layers of amusing banter and genuine surprises. No, we might not want to start a business with Leo, Marlon and Darcy or trust them to remember/prioritize to feed the cat or pick up the mail, while we are on vacation, but these three deliver plenty of laughs to warrant a sequel, “An Even Worse Idea Gone Wrong”.
Jeff – a member of the Phoenix Critics Circle – has penned film reviews since 2008 and graduated from ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. Follow Jeff and the Phoenix Film Festival on Twitter @MitchFilmCritic and @PhoenixFilmFest, respectively.