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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Bandits

Starring: Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thorton
Director: Barry Levinson
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 123 Minutes
Release Date: October 2001
Genres: Action, Comedy, Suspense

*Also starring: Cate Blanchett, Azura Skye, Rocky LaRochelle, Troy Garity

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Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

Bruce Wills and Billy Bob Thornton play bickering ex-cons who become America's Most Wanted bank robbers in this screwball caper comedy. After a somewhat confusing, chaotic setup in which they're heisting the Alamo Savings & Loan in L.A., a flashback reveals who they are and how they got there. They're "The Sleepover Bandits" who take a bank manager and his family hostage the night before a theft. Hampered by an anger-management problem, Willis is a suave if impulsive man of action, while the more thoughtful Thornton is an obsessive/compulsive hypochondriac. They dream of margaritas and tuxedos, running a little hotel near Acapulco. To this end, they recruit Willis's cousin (Troy Garity), a dim-witted stunt man, to drive the getaway car. But life gets more complicated when they take a hostage, Cate Blanchett, an unhappy housewife who's giddy with delight at their antics, falling in love with them both, reasoning, "I can't choose between you because, together, you're the perfect man." "She's mentally unbalanced to a spectacular degree," Thornton astutely observes. And the plot is punctuated with interviews on TV's "Criminals at Large." Working from Harley Peyton's screenplay, Barry Levinson's direction is expertly sharp and funny, including a brief nod to the motel scene in "It Happened One Night." While the Willis-Thornton comedic chemistry clicks, Cate Blanchett delivers a deftly daffy, richly funny and volcanically sexy performance, the kind that deserves Oscar attention. As does Victor Kempster's production design and Gloria Gresham's costumes which are - to say the least - outrageous. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Bandits" is a smart, savvy, wickedly funny 8, evoking a quirky, contemporary "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" romp.

Copyright 2001 Susan Granger

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