In filmmaking, there is nothing wrong with toying around with the expectations of your audience. Some films have famously started with one plot then defied audience expectations and successfully took audiences down a different path. For the lack of a better word, it’s called the twist. Writer/director Jason Headley takes on this challenge, whether intentional or not, with A Bad Idea Gone Wrong.
“Novice cat burglars…hope to pull off the not-so-perfect heist…”
Novice cat burglars Marlon (Matt Jones) and Leo (Will Rogers) hope to pull off the not-so-perfect heist as they sit in a diner dreaming of what they would do with their spoils. Leo says he’s found the perfect home for a burglary since its owners will be out of town for several days.
This perfect home soon becomes problematic. First, it’s in a gated community. So the industrious duo hides in the trunk of a pizza delivery car in order to get past the guard booth. Second, the house has an alarm system. Marlon hacks the alarms PIN code, but mistakenly sets the alarm instead of shutting it off. “But couldn’t he disarm it the same way?” I think to myself. This is only the first of many plot holes. Finally, the home has a housesitter, Darcy (Eleanore Pienta), who is sleeping in the upstairs bedroom. We soon find that Leo had ulterior motives in choosing this specific home.
What A Bad Idea Gone Wrong has going for it is a good cast playing well-defined characters. Matt Jones as Marlon is the smart mouth one. He’s that guy who has something funny to say all the time but does so without being annoying. Will Rogers plays Leo as the sympathetic lead of the film. He brings the right hidden emotional undertones to his performance and peeling it back as his true motivations eventually come to light. Which begs the question, “if our leads are such good friends, why doesn’t Marlon see through Leo’s cryptic behavior?” I can’t reveal much about Eleanore Pienta’s performance as Darcy other than she’s not exactly showing all her cards.
“…just never builds enough momentum to be interesting.”
Humor in comedies generally comes from three sources: situation, characters, and dialogue. I’ve discussed character being the film’s strength. Unfortunately, the film’s situation and dialogue fail to push A Bad Idea Gone Wrong successfully across the finish line. It’s situation just doesn’t feel dangerous enough. We’re talking about a robbery with a hostage situation. Generally a high-stress situation. It’s handled in a nonchalant, low-energy manner. The hostage portion of the plot is resolved quickly and almost cast aside. The end result comes off as the overused “characters-placed-in-a-wacky-predicament.”
The dialogue is amusing at best. While Marlon arguably has most of the funny lines, they are more snickers than belly-laughs. Don’t get me wrong; there are funny moments. Like when Marlon and Leo use Saran Wrap and aluminum foil to disguise their appearance in front of their hostage Darcy. For me the highlight of the film when Darcy is able to choke out Leo in an effort to escape.
When your marketing and trailers say your film is one thing but soon becomes something else, you have to pay it off big time. In other words, if your film does not fulfill initial audience expectations, you have to up the ante and deliver something bold and worth watching. Unfortunately, A Bad Idea Gone Wrong just never builds enough momentum to be interesting.
A Bad Idea Gone Wrong (2017) Written and directed by Jason Headley. Starring Matt Jones, Will Rogers, and Eleanore Pienta.
2.5 out of 5 stars