'Masterminds' is great if you don't expect too much

Posted October 4

MOVIE LAND — I’ve come to appreciate that there are three types of people in this world:

1. The people who do not and never will enjoy movies with crude and irreverent humor.

2. The people who think a movie isn't worth watching if it isn't somehow crude or irreverent.

3. The people who can appreciate the type 1 point of view and may even espouse it in certain social situations. But if they are really honest with themselves, they identify secretly with the type 2 person by enjoying the occasional — shall we say — less intellectual type of humor found in certain movies.

I am probably not alone when I admit my teenage self usually hides just beneath the surface of my responsible adult facade. I attempt to disguise my immaturity with a fake moustache, monocle, and fancy accent when talking to clients or my children's teachers. The truth is, I still laugh pretty hard at 14-year-old humor and I still enjoy the occasional movies that cater specifically to that demographic. The movie “Masterminds” is exactly that type of movie.

So from this perspective, I will offer a list of what group 1 and group 2 may or may not like about "Masterminds."

What worked for group 1

Jared Hess as a director

If you are familiar with Jared Hess’s previous work ("Napolean Dynamite," "Nacho Libre" and "Gentlemen Broncos"), then you are aware of Hess’s aesthetic. Hess has the unique ability to create quirky out of common and the absurd out of the everyday, giving his films a distinct feel specifically his own.

I find that the humor in his movies are as much about the environment, characters and feel as it is about the story itself. My appreciation for his style was solidified in this movie as I was able to separate Jared Hess the director from Jared Hess the writer/director.

What worked for group 2

First string comedy casting

This film felt like a reunion tour with the majority of its cast and a producer coming from Saturday Night Live. Kate McKinnon, Jason Sudeikis, Kristin Wiig and Leslie Jones provided the perfect backdrop humor for Zach Galifinakis and Owen Wilson. This cast had more than enough skill to deliver their jokes and commit entirely to their character's persona with ease as far as the script would allow.

Jokes are funny (if you're into that sort of thing)

If you have seen the preview for "Masterminds,” you know exactly what type of humor you're going to get. The comedy is slapstick, over the top and often geared to the lowest common denominator. If you would rather eat nails than submit yourself to this sort of humor, this movie is not for you.

What didn't work for group 1

Writing wasn't strong enough

This movie was not written as strongly as it should have been to let all of the cast talent shine. There were some very funny moments from everyone at different times throughout the movie, but not enough. It didn't feel like the movie got its moneys worth for all of the talent they paid for.

There were a few jokes and gags that felt like they were written just to get the potty humor vote. Jokes like this ended up feeling forced and unnecessary— for an example, pay attention to the engagement picture scene.

What didn't work for group 2

Trying too hard

It is clear that this movie had a certain level of appeal it was trying to hit, but didn't quite reach. This movie was funny, but not as funny as I think it wanted to be. Some of the jokes were played too long and the pace of the movie was a little disjointed. The movie got close to what it was going for, but is far from ever becoming a cult classic.


Comedies are such a hard movie genre to categorize as to what is good or not, depending on what category of person you fall into. There is no golden standard or comedic "Citizen Cain " by which all comedies can be judged. It is left up to the individual viewer to decide if they find a film to be funny or not.

A wise old man told me once of comedies, “If they make you laugh, they work. Plain and simple.” By this standard "Masterminds" worked for me, but if you set a bar low enough, almost anything will work.


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