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Scorched (PG-13)
Neverland Films, Inc.
Official Site
Director: Gavin Grazer
Producers: Al Corley, Eugene Musso, Bart Rosenblatt (Max Wein, Kyle Lundberg)
Written by: Joe Wein, Max Wein
Cast: Alicia Silverstone, Rachael Leigh Cook, Woody Harrelson, John Cleese, Paulo Costanzo, David Krumholtz, Joshua Leonard, Marcus Thomas, Ivan Sergei, Jeffrey Tambor

Rating: out of 5

Scorched is the antithesis of the typical heist movie a la Ocean’s 11 or Snatch. There is no snazzy fool-proof plan and certainly no glitzy mastermind behind it all. In fact the target, Desert Savings Bank, is itself a simple affair located in a small town in the middle of the, well, the desert.

The story revolves around several dissatisfied employees of said bank, and a handful of other residents in the town. There is no main character, but rather an ensemble cast with different interwoven objectives. The neat aspect of this movie is how the multi-part plot and timing work themselves out.

At the beginning, a man rides up on a motorbike, walks nonchalantly into a bank, and finds the place in chaos—apparently the bank has just been robbed. Rewind to a week earlier. In a split-screen shot and explanatory voice-over, we find out that money in the bank is stored in three places: the ATM machines, the drawers behind the front desk, and the vault. So what happened?

We meet Sheila (Silverstone), an employee of the bank and recent ex-girlfriend of unctuous bank manager Rick (Leonard). Together with new boyfriend Mark (Sergei), she decides to take revenge on Rick by robbing the bank. Rick is already on thin ice as a manager and a crisis such as a robbery would certainly get him fired.

Then there is Stu (Costanzo), a decent guy with a poor choice in friends. Stu’s best friend is the incredibly annoying Max (Krumholtz), who never shuts up but keeps spewing endless nonsensical drivel. Max has somehow persuaded Stu to “borrow” a large sum of money from his place of employment, gamble it all at Vegas, and return it before anyone notices. Costanzo puts in a wonderful performance as the guilt-stricken paranoic, but even more commendable is how he keeps his fists to himself whenever Max goes into one of his tirades.

The last bank employee is Woods (Harrelson), an eccentric man who lives alone in the desert with his pet duck. Several years ago he watched as self-important millionaire and hunting enthusiast Charles Merchant (Cleese) brutally shot his pet duck’s mother. He has vowed revenge ever since. Fortunately for Woods, he knows where Merchant’s valuables are kept in the bank.

So there you have it: three uncoordinated bank heists, all in one weekend.

But that’s not everything, there is yet a fourth perspective to add to the mix. Carter Doleman (Thomas) is the earnest but clueless guy who can’t hold a job and doesn’t see anything wrong with wearing t-shirts that say “Useless” to job interviews. With the help of his friend Shmally (Cook), he organizes his life and applies for work at the bank.

Shmally herself is quite the imaginative one, as she gets lost in her own fantasy world and pictures herself in ridiculous sequences battling enemies in full Xena-wear. However, she’s not the only one who gets to play dress-up in this film. Merchant also has a ludicrous scene in which he is interrupted while cooking Japanese food and ends up running about town dressed in a kimono and headband.

Scorched utilizes a variety of slapstick, and the timing fits together in a funny and comedic way. It’s too bad the movie isn’t better executed and that the characters involved are none too interesting.

—Kelly Hsu


hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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