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December 1, 2011
Review - " Flypaper "  -  (on DVD) By Roland Hansen
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Flypaper
Directed by: Rob Minkoff
Starring: Patrick Dempsey, Ashley Judd, Jeffrey Tambor, Tim
Blake Nelson, Mekhi Phifer, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Curtis
Armstrong and Octavia Spencer.

Just imagine 'Clue' remade as a bank robbery movie. Doesn't
that sound fun? I thought so. Flypaper may not be well
executed, too broad for a script that obviously wants to be a
very profane and twisted black comedy, but it's not without a
silly charm.

Directed by Rob Minkoff ('The Haunted Mansion') from an
early script by writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, Flypaper
definitely feels like the meeting point of a former Disney
animator (Minkoff also co-helmed 'The Lion King') and a duo
behind such screenplays as 'Four Christmases' and 'The
Hangover.' It's like a live-action cartoon for adults of average
intelligence, the kind of fast-paced movie in which a dumb
hick criminal (Tim Blake Nelson, doing the bumpkin shtick
once again) is blown up by his own explosive device, Wile E.
Coyote style, propelling him through the air backgrounded by
terribly rendered CG flames.

The heist romp begins with assorted characters, played by
familiar character actors like Jeffrey Tambor, Curtis
Armstrong, Rob Huebel and Adrian Martinez, as well as stars
Patrick Dempsey (also a producer) and Ashley Judd, working
or doing business in the giant savings bank that serves as
the film's sole setting. As the bank is about to shut down for a
security system upgrade, it is held up by two different robbery
crews. One group of thieves is of the Hans
Gruber-in-Die-Hard variety, high-tech and professional, with
fancy steel-cased laptops, helmets with night-vision goggles,
and enough firepower to blast their way through any
barricade. This crew
(played by Mekhi Phifer, John Ventimiglia, and Matt Ryan) is lean, efficient, and plans to go for the vault. The other are a pair
of redneck, smash-and-grab types who appear deep into the 600s on a list of Most Wanted for Grand Larceny. A couple of
hillbillies calling themselves “Peanut Butter & Jelly” (Tim Blake Nelson and Pruitt Taylor Vince) aim to get the money out of
the ATMs by using weapons-grade plastic explosives they bought off the Internet.

Near closing time, bank teller
Ashley Judd deals with one
last customer, played by
Patrick Dempsey, a Rain Man
type who wants his $100 bill
broken down into quirky
permutations of quarters,
dimes, and nickels. Caught in
the middle are the bank
employees and Trip (Dempsey),
a neurotic customer who
believes there’s more going on
than just two concurrent bank
robberies.

A shoot-out between the rival
groups ensues Dempsey works
out a truce between the dueling
thieves, but his overactive mind—which suggests ADD, OCD, autism, and the absence of medication—brings out his inner
Columbo, and his amateur sleuthing puts Judd and her co-workers in danger. The separate groups of thieves agree to share
the bank and hostages. But when people begin dying mysteriously, the whole ensemble begins to wonder if there's at least
one other burglar in the bunch. And that's of course where the 'Clue' connection comes in. Were all the characters brought
together for a reason? Will Dempsey's fast-talking observer crack the case? Was this the first instance in which Lucas and
Moore wrote a character who might be late to his/her wedding (here it's Judd's engaged teller)?

While each robbery crew runs into difficulties in their respective heists, Trip runs around trying to piece together a conspiracy
he sees at the heart of this unlikely coincidence of dual robberies.  Why does he care so much about solving the mystery?  
Because he’s neurotic and wants to solve the mystery and that’s about as much as Flypaper cares to explain its lead
character.

There is a lot about Flypaper that reeks. However, there is something clever to the robbery plot as it's ultimately revealed,
and Dempsey is in fact a treat to watch as he obsessively and looks for clues and figures out the master plan. He stands out
in a cast of otherwise underused (Tambor, Huebel) or overdone (Nelson, Vince) performers. Where 'Clue' mostly worked
because of its ensemble,
here the players could
have been a lot more
interesting.

There are a lot of twists
and turns, everyone is
suspect, the final solution is
completely unbelievable for
reasons I can't say without
spoiling the surprise.
Although I did manage to
come up with a way it could
be plausible. Outside its
schematics, Flypaper is
somewhat clueless, as it
were, and not nearly as
funny or wicked as it should
be. But I kind of enjoyed
what it was going for.
Flypaper still manages
laughs due to its manic
energy, non-stop jokes,
and the brilliant Tim Blake
Nelson.