It takes quite a lot for me not to like a heist movie as it one genre to which I’ll admit a weakness. It turns out that “Stark Raving Mad” has a lot. Normally even a poor actioner can be bailed out if the caper is at least compelling, but in the case of this film the problems are numerous and even the theft is a mess. The movie dates back a few years and has had enough trouble finding a home that it was released on video in just about every country before hitting shelves in the US.
Sean William Scott is the lead and this is actually his first stretch away from his years as Stiffler in the “American Pie” series, predating his roles in “Bulletproof Monk” and “Rundown”. He plays Ben McGewen, a mid-level B & E man who is beholden to a local crime bosses. He is commissioned to pull off a robbery for Gregory, who is Lou Diamond Phillips in bleached white spiked hair that makes him appear hilarious—I mean menacing. Gregory has McGewen breaking into a bank vault that holds a statue that completes a set of four that grants supposed power to whoever holds the entire collection. If Ben manages to steal the Hummel it will clear a debt he has with Gregory.
Ben often turns to the camera to address the audience, revealing personal details such as his preference for PBS and The Learning Channel, and he details how he spent 6 months planning the crime, yet he fails to explain why he selected a group of incompetents to form his gang. He brings along a novice demolition “expert”, and Betty who is a disgruntled security firm worker who delights in over riding alarms, and the young son of a safe building family named Jeffery who rebels by breaking into his family’s handiwork. Jeffery is notably the weak link as he is anxiously superstitious and prone to seizures. Weaker still is Ben’s right-hand man Rikki, but since he does not contribute a thing to the job, or the movie, I cannot find much to find fault in him.
The job centers on a nightclub that Ben has rented for the night because it shares a common wall with the bank next door, and the blaring music will mask the noise of punching a hole in that wall. As the night begins so do the problems. First the club owner, (Adam Arkin, cashing a paycheck after the cancellation of “Baby Bob”) decides to stay in the club, wisely choosing not to turn over his business to a group of yahoos and then declaring the music is too loud. Other monkey wrenches to the plan involve a rival crime boss patrolling his turf, a DJ who refuses to play the record Ben needs to hide his own noise, and an ex-girlfriend who a turns acts either bitchy or amorous with Ben, and a six foot long python that seems to be able to move across a nightclub in a matter of seconds. Also on the scene is ex-Kid in the Hall Dave Foley who is 20lbs. heavier than his “News Radio” days playing an undercover FBI agent.
All these characters divert McGewen’s attention from the failure of his crew. His munitions man has trouble with his task before accidentally drinking an ecstasy potion that renders him useless-er. Then Jeffery reveals his medical condition which renders him out of commission for 20 or so minutes. Ben has to race back and forth throughout the movie, dealing with the failings of his crew and then running back into the club to put an end to the various problems. Between his excursions he often addresses the camera with more uninsightful, unfunny monologues.
The most surprising thing is that while it may be a good idea for Sean William to stretch himself as an actor he is utterly unused in this affair. He doesn’t have the screen presence or the chops to be a leading man, yet the directors do not employ his comedic talents at all. They hope that the material will lend the humor, but it fails and as Scott is positioned as the straight man to the rest of the cast what we get is a movie where he runs around acting like a baby sitter. Considering that the heist is nothing to take note of I fail to see what this movie has to offer.