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
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.