Two would-be thieves forge a surprising relationship with an unexpected house-sitter when they accidentally trap themselves in a house they just broke into.
Matt Jones, Will Rogers, Eleanore Pienta
Two best friends have a simple plan: break into an empty but hugely expensive house. Steal everything of value. Get outta there.
The title is a dead giveaway that it’s never as simple as it seems. Writer/director Jason Headley‘s crime-comedy takes a hefty dollop of inspiration from the quirky independent likes of Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket and, whilst it never reaches those dizzying heights, it is still an inventive and intermittently hilarious feature debut.
It’s incredibly brisk, clocking in at around 75 minutes, and the film takes no time in getting us to the heist itself, with our two main characters, Leo (Will Rogers) and Marlon (Matt Jones), finding their way to their target address within minutes of the start. This fast pace is in a part a strength as the film is completely devoid of any fat or filler. It makes for a breezy enjoyable little film.
The runtime and the subsequent quick moving plot do throw up some issues though. Our main characters are quick-witted and certainly fun to watch but are little more than 2D cut-outs on paper. Matt Jones and Will Rogers bring their absolute best to the roles, at least fleshing out the characters a little, but there’s really little to invest in. Roger’s Leo is a heartbroken sap yearning for his ex-fiancé, whilst Jones’ Marlon is a bit looser and wants to help his friend overcome his misery. Marlon’s motivation for the theft amounts to little more than this good-natured friendship combined with a way to get rich quick.
This is one of a number of aspects of the film that feels a little underwritten. Plot holes begin to creep in throughout the film, with the finale especially throwing up more questions than answers. The film in a few places, therefore, feels like it could have benefited from an extra scene or two. Leo’s interplay with Eleanore Pienta’s Darcy, in particular, suffers from this and events begin to smack of implausibility. These moments of developing relationships and of heart and pathos strike a little hollow given the short time we see the characters interact.
There is a lot to love here though. It has a simple yet great concept at the heart of the film which is so strong that the movie can survive its weaker moments. Headley executes his twists and turns perfectly too, knowing exactly when the film needs a revelation, major event, or new character. As mentioned the characters themselves may not be the deepest but the premise is handled so expertly that it’s a great ride anyway. The actors all put in great work too and have a real chemistry together, which eases any issues with the script. Jones has stolen scenes in the high profile likes of Breaking Bad before and steps comfortably into a leading role here. Rogers plays the straight man and does a great job with a tougher role, making Leo both empathetic and hilarious to watch. Pienta as house-sitter Darcy adds an extra dimension and injects a burst of energy with her introduction into the film, and arguably ends up being the star of the show.
A Bad Idea Gone Wrong is a great advert for and a fantastic lesson in low-budget genre filmmaking. Jason Headley has taken a huge risk with a genre notoriously difficult to execute well (even with a hefty budget), and with only a few slight slipups, has produced something genuinely great.
A Bad Idea Gone Wrong is available on VOD from June 4th 2018.
Great Premise executed well
Brilliant example of low-budgeting filmmaking done right
Quality acting performances
Slightly lightweight characters on paper
Noticeable plot holes seep in