What ever happened to Jared Hess? That’s not a rhetorical question; I really don’t have an answer. Napoleon Dynamite was a massive success, and Nacho Libre made a decent buck. But after that, he just kinda fell off. Remember Gentlemen Broncos? Nobody does, because it didn’t get a wide release. And it’s kind of a shame, because he’s not bad at all. He’s one of the few auteurs in modern comedy. But hey, Masterminds is his first wide-release movie in over a decade, so maybe that’s something (???).
One problem: he couldn’t release it. First, the problem was Jim Carrey dropping out. Yeah, Zach Galifianakis is only in this movie because Jim Carrey was too busy being a damned dirty hippie. Next issue: the studio went bankrupt. The film was actually supposed to come out over a year ago. First, Relativity pushed it from July to October. Then, around August, the story was that the movie wouldn’t be coming out at all. But thankfully, we finally got it. So is it worth all that?
Not really. I mean, it’s fine. It revels in Hess’ folksy, oddball style, which I like. The dialogue is solid. But the plot is really all over the place, and the aimlessness isn’t as endearing as it was in Napoleon Dynamite because it’s A) based on a true story, and B) not all that funny. There are moments where it’s absolutely hilarious, but for every moment of brilliance, there’s three or four moments that elicit no reaction at all.
The actors seem to be having a good time, for the most part. Owen Wilson isn’t. I feel like he probably had a bigger part in the movie at some point and they just threw in more Galifianakis and Wiig scenes because he really wasn’t feeling it. Still, the shining star of the movie was Kate McKinnon, who is the shining star of everything she’s ever been in.
So overall, I guess it’s a fun time, but I was kind of hoping for something better, with such a stellar cast and with Hess at the helm. Next up, he’s got Shanghai Dawn. As much as I appreciate them, why can’t the Shanghai Noon movies hold down a director? Do they really think Hess’ style can mesh with that series at all? Also, he’s writing that Nicktoons movie, which is pretty weird too. Anyway, I give Masterminds like a C+.