The Best Laid Plans follows college friends Kevin (Michael LiCastri), John (Keith Surplus), and Allen (David Plowden), all of whom are struggling to get reliable jobs after graduating. Kevin needs money quickly to help save his family home, so he hits upon the idea of becoming pimps to make money, but the friends don’t seem to be into it. Ever the opportunist, Kevin finds out that an old classmate, Tommy (Brian Ballance), has won the lottery. So, he convinces John and Allen to help him kidnap Tommy to get a portion of the winnings.
Feeling like their backs are up against a wall, monetarily speaking, they agree. The trio tails Tommy for a few days to get his routine down before snatching Tommy off the streets. But the actual kidnapping proves to be the easy part, as Tommy is a master manipulator, constantly turning the tables on his captors. Will the friends get the money and save Kevin’s house, or do their consciences get the better of them?
“…[Kevin] convinces John and Allen to help him kidnap Tommy…”
It is not a big surprise to find out that The Best Laid Plans is a passion project for LiCastri, who, along with starring in the comedy, also wrote, produced, and directed it. Why isn’t that a surprise? Well, because he’d only be cast in a film if he was also pulling most of the strings. LiCastri is not a good actor, often spouting off his lines (dialogue he wrote) far too quickly, not allowing room for the words to breathe. His rapid-fire delivery makes it seem like he’s uncomfortable in front of the camera and just wants to get this over with as soon as possible. It also means most of what he says is pitched in a frenzy, whether or not the situation calls for it.
As such, it is very difficult to get on the same wavelength as this movie, as the audience never really empathizes with the ostensible lead. Plus, the whole pimping angle leads nowhere, though there is a funny back and forth between Allen and John that works. Another negative is the pointless Linnea Quigley cameo. She plays a hooker whose pimp deals drugs to Tommy. Quigley is a fine actress, but her scenes add nothing to the narrative, the characters, nor does it lead anywhere truly satisfying. The film runs a mere 73 minutes long, and a good portion of the first half or so is pointless filler. Even with LiCastri’s acting still in place, cutting all this out and making a tight 30-40 minute short would have significantly benefitted the pacing and enhanced audience engagement all the way around.
But, not all is lost, as, Surplus, Plowden, and especially Ballance all acquit themselves reasonably well. Their comedic timing is solid, and when things get more serious, their character shifts are believable. In a scene where Tommy is attempting to suss out what the other two are getting from this, as he’s already deduced who the ringleader is, the actors’ natural chemistry and Ballance’s charm do a lot of the heavy lifting.
"…could easily morph into a reliable indie name..."