Every now and then, there is a simple movie about simpletons that is simply a stupid comedy. Billed as a redneck heist-flick, director Steven Soderberg (“Oceans Eleven” trilogy) returns from retirement to recreate his formula of sophisticated characters with “Hee Haw” heroes so we can see how the other half steals.
Soderbergh funded and distributed the movie, mostly himself, so he could make his own kind of picture. First time writer Rebecca Blunt is thought to be a pseudonym, possibly for Soderbergh himself. The star cast includes Channing Tatum (“Magic Mike”), Adam Driver (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) and Daniel Craig (“James Bond” series).
Remarkably, these stars are not portraying characters we expected to see. Shamelessly using every Southern-fried stereotype, and tinted with a dry sense of humor, we were surprised that Mama June or Larry the Cable Guy didn’t show up somewhere in a critical role. Picture a hillbilly “Ocean’s Eleven” written by the Coen Brothers (“Fargo”).
The story is centered on two West Virginia brothers attempting to pull off a big time robbery during a NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Cameos by racecar drivers Darrell Waltrip Jr. and Jeff Gordon, the anthem sung by LeAnn Rimes, and a cast of thousands in the bleachers, add to the credibility of this colossal event.
Jimmy Logan (Tatum) is a miner; laid off for an old football injury, while brother Clyde (Driver) is a slow talking bartender, who lost his hand on an Iraqi battlefield. The local rumor is the Logan’s are cursed. Without work, Jimmy wonders how ex-wife Bobbie Joe (Katie Holmes) will react regarding visitation rights to their daughter.
Jimmy develops a scheme to pull off a heist that might make everything right again. Clyde reluctantly agrees to join. They decide to solicit imprisoned bank robber Joe Bank (Craig) to assist. Brit Daniel Craig is a hoot with his bleached short hair, tattoos and faux southern accent. They then enlist Bank’s brothers Fish and Sam (Jack Quaid, Brian Gleeson), who steal every scene, but might be better named, Beavis and Butthead.
The plan relies heavily on this dimwit and his two half-wits, but it’s all they have to work with and there is no fallback plan. Joe, who is still behind bars, spells out the biggest problem, “I am in-car-ce-ra-ted.” But these goobers have a plan for that as well. Okay, the scheme (and the entire movie) is preposterous, so the best way to enjoy this story is to do what the characters are doing, and that is to not think too hard, or at all.
The audience can laugh just as hard with the characters as at the characters. It’s not just what they say, but how they say it. Some of their eyes are so dull or so crazed, even the NRA might question their emotional well being. However, along the way, the “country boy” persona and backwoods ingenuity might actually be the best cover for this scam.
When calculating the amount of explosives needed, Jimmy estimates their distance to the vault to be twenty or thirty yards. Joe demands to know, “Is it twenty or thirty? We are dealing with science here!” All we need to know is, “It blowed up real good!” These are a proud people. As Jimmy is told, “Maybe you are not as simple as people say,” He responds, “Which people? What do they say?”
Sure, this movie is thoroughly forgettable and mostly a waste of time. However, as the summer blockbusters are gone and the holiday season is a couple months away, you have an opportunity to make of it what you will. The cast is rounded out with Academy Award winner Hilary Swank, country singer Dwight Yoakum, Seth MacFarlane (creator of “The Family Guy”) and Riley Keough (Elvis’ granddaughter).
“Logan Lucky” is 119 minutes and rated PG-13 for language and crude comments. Sure, not everyone loves a hootenanny, but they are fun for more people than simple-minded hicks. Jimmy is presented as a normal guy down on his luck. But, the stereotypes for his friends are so brazen and over-the-top, we trust nobody takes them seriously.
The cast appears to enjoy poking fun at themselves and hopefully closed production with, “We done real good!” Soderbergh made his kind of movie but realizes this story is not for everyone. The filmmakers note during the credits, “This movie is a work of fiction. Nobody was robbed during the making of this movie, except you!”
Ron’s Rating: B-
Leigh’s Rating: D+