Review: Life of Crime
There is no whole to Life of Crime, just a slew of random parts that on their own do well enough to entertain in this adequate and well-meaning piece of mediocrity. It’s a talented yet curious cast that makes up a series of scenes that don’t really go together, but still charm.
In 1970’s Detroit, Mos Def and John Hawkes are criminals Ordell and Louis: not exactly half-wits, but certainly not working with a full deck. For example, in their kidnapping scheme, they solicit the help of a hefty nazi-loving pervert, taking advantage of his vast arsenal and swastika-adorned house while ignoring his cherished beliefs and similar ability to be easily duped.
Their buffoonery is just one small hole in their porous plan to score a million dollars. Unfortunately for the small-time crooks, the woman they kidnap isn’t particularly desired. Frank Dawson, a rich, selfish, drunk of a husband, played with some enjoyment by Tim Robbins, doesn’t much care for his beautiful wife Mickey (Jennifer Aniston). In fact, he is already in the Bahamas and ready for divorce, spending time with another woman (Isla Fisher) when the messy kidnapping goes down.
It’s messy because a doting awkward friend of Mickey is a mustachioed fool played by Will Forte, and he shows up to woo as she is beset by Ordell and Louis. The rest follows as expected, with lies and deceit and comedic antics in this story directed and adapted by Daniel Schechter from a novel by Elmore Leonard.
Also, Louis, the more sympathetic of the two of course starts to take kindly to Mickey, so there’s that unnecessary and unremarkable tangent, The funny comes in waves, the cast aren’t all quite on the same page and humor is elicited more in what the characters do than what they say. What’s more, the tone seems to change at random, as the film never is quite sure what it wants to be, whether a farce or a caper.
Neither dramatic nor humorous enough, Life of Crime is too inconsistent to fulfill the winning offbeat lark it wishes it could be.