2 out of 5 stars
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Scorched This ensemble caper comedy wants to be There's Something About a Fish Called Wanda so badly that it hurts. Cast and crew pile zany wackiness on top of cruel hilarity, but it's just never any fun. The plot centres on three employees of the Desert Savings Bank in a dusty corner of Southern California: Sheila (Silverstone) has just been dumped by her boss-boyfriend Rick (Leonard) and knows that if she robs the cash machine over the weekend he'll lose his job. Woods (Harrelson) has been humiliated by Rick one too many times and now has plans to empty the safety deposit box of the local arrogant millionaire (Cleese). And Stu (Costanzo) is convinced by his pal (Krumholtz) to borrow a bag full of bank cash to see if they can turn it into a fortune over a weekend in Vegas.

The film opens on Monday morning when a naive nice guy (Thomas) arrives at the bank to start his new job, only to find the place in chaos after the weekend robberies. We then jump back and follow the increasingly nutty series of events in a sunny and loud filmmaking style that thinks it's much more hip and cool than it is. The script isn't that bad, and in the hands of a good director this could have been a lively heist comedy. But this leaden mess never gets off the ground; the superb cast is encouraged to play it broadly, without subtext or character detail, and it's photographed and edited with no finesse at all. It feels completely pointless, despite some entertaining sequences and gifted performers. Every chance to make something intriguing out of the characters is wasted (the worst is Cook's Xena wannabe, who could be cut out entirely); while the film is watchable, not a single plot thread comes to life. We may laugh a few times and marvel at how the filmmakers juggle the storylines, but without even a whiff of originality we're left utterly cold at the end. Sigh.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 29.Sep.03

dir Gavin Grazer
scr Joe Wein
with Alicia Silverstone, Woody Harrelson, Paulo Costanzo, John Cleese, David Krumholtz, Marcus Thomas, Joshua Leonard, Ivan Sergei, Rachael Leigh Cook, Jeffrey Tambor, Al Corley, Max Wein
release US 25.Jul.03; UK 9.Dec.05
02/US 1h34

Counting the cash: Costanzo, Harrelson and Silverstone.

silverstone harrelson cleese
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2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall