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Watch This Review

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Movie Review

David Ghantt has more money than he knows what to do with. So maybe it's a good thing it's not his money and that someone else tells him what to do with it.

Ghantt's a glorified delivery guy. Only instead dropping off couches or UPS packages to grateful customers, David delivers money to Charlotte-area ATMs. As a driver for Loomis, Fargo & Co., an armored truck service, he sees more presidents than a White House tour guide, handles more dough than a season's worth of contestants from The Great British Bake Off. He's a good employee because he never takes his work home with him.

But there's not a lot of money in the money business, so David simply has to scrape by—mainly with the help of cheap wood byproducts. His Volkswagen truck sports a plywood door. His trailer, which he apparently shares with his fiancée (Jandice) and her oxygen-tank-tethered mother, is bedecked in tasteful '70s-era paneling. Even his smile feels a little wooden: Look closely at his engagement pictures, and you might mistake him for a hostage.

Then one day David's pretty ex-coworker, Kelly, invites him to lunch. He accepts and brings flowers, hoping the meeting might ignite a torrid relationship. But while Kelly coquettishly bats her eyes and runs her hand across his, the lunch proves to be more of a business meeting. Seems Kelly's working with a mysterious guy lurking in the restaurant booth next to theirs—a guy who only wants to be called Geppetto.

"I'm the one who pulls the strings," he explains in an ominous tone.

Sure, technically, the guy pulling strings would be Stromboli in Pinocchio, as David gently points out. But no matter. They have more important business to discuss: a massive robbery of Fargo Loomis. One big score, and their lives will be changed forever.

David isn't so sure. First of all, it's pretty illegal, carrying with it some hefty penalties. And second …

Well, he can't think of a second reason, what with Kelly batting her eyes and talking to him in that oh-so-bashfully sultry way she does. Shortly thereafter, he agrees to be the heist's inside man—not so much because of the cash, but for the promise of running off to Mexico with Kelly, where they can live off their ill-gotten gains in paradise.

They always say that crime doesn't pay. But it's got to be more lucrative than honesty, right?

Positive Elements

No. The answer to that last question is no. And, at the risk of spoiling this movie, one that's based on a real-life story that made headlines nearly 20 years ago, we can say that none of these heist shysters escaped the long arm of the law.

Aaaand … well, that's about it.

Spiritual Content

Jandice says she met her true love at a "youth praise concert at church." (He died, and she met David at the funeral.) Someone says David's unusual haircut makes him look like "one of the 12 apostles." We also hear someone say, "The God of the galaxy has brought us together."

Sexual Content

Despite the whole engaged-to-another-woman thing, David's real attraction is to Kelly. He lamely flirts with her while they work together. And when Kelly decides to get herself fired, she does so by "sexually harassing" David (rubbing her hands all over him as he sits in the break room). When her boss tells her to leave her uniform behind, she removes her work shirt right there and walks out with just a bra covering her topside. (David is verbally appreciative of her attributes.)

To rope David into the heist, Kelly leads David on, encouraging him to think of them as lovers and to envision them rubbing coconut oil on each other in Mexico. He brings her roses during their luncheon. (When a thorn punctures one of her breasts, they have an awkward conversation why he's seeing blood, not milk.) He kisses her tenderly on occasion and calls her "Bonnie" to his "Clyde." Kelly's pretended affection grows into something real eventually, and we see her in a store, apparently shopping for skimpy bikinis, thongs and lingerie. (She also discusses negligee with David.) Near the end, David professes his true love for Kelly, saying he'd "rob a million banks for you," as well as a funeral home (admitting the latter wouldn't be nearly as lucrative).

It seems David may already be living with his fiancée. There are conversations about yeast infections and vaginal care. Someone sprays vaginal cream into another person's mouth. A conversation identifies Rio de Janeiro as the land of "big butts" with a sly nod to homosexuality. Jandice and David pose for wedding pictures, some of which look rather ribald. The plotting robbers say that if all goes well, their getaway will be "as clean as a nun's undies."

David and Kelly stuff $20,000 in cash into his underwear before he gets on a plane to Mexico. When he pulls out a $20 bill to pay for some items at an airport gift shop, it's covered with pubic hair. (He explains that he has cats and blows the hair in the cashier's direction.) David also throws baby powder on his privates (contact obscured by a towel wrapped around his middle).

We see clips of old movie spies making the moves on female conquests. There's talk about strippers. In outtakes during the credits, a conversation between Kristen Wiig (Kelly) and Zach Galifianakis (David) suggestively describes intercourse.

Violent Content

Geppetto hires a killer to get rid of David, and the contract assassin is clearly not a man to be trifled with. When they first meet, the killer accidentally drops an ear from a handkerchief (it's more rubbery than gory) and discusses how he favors knives and rusty piano wire over guns, because he likes the "struggle." He does buy a gun—an ancient blunderbuss-like weapon—which literally backfires and sends him tumbling from a second-story balcony. He asks if a young boy is his intended mark. He throws a spear, too. David, while fleeing the man, grabs the back of a truck and careens into cars, souvenir stands and piñatas.

A man gets bitten by a moray eel. Another man runs his motorcycle into a chain, sending him flying. Another man is duct taped. Another man has his shirt blown off in an explosion. People point guns, brandish knives and act threateningly. Some characters, including police officers, are punched and kicked.

David accidentally shoots himself in the rear. There's talk of shooting people new anal cavities. Someone else accidentally shoots out a window.

We see clips of violent action movies. Cars crash.

Crude or Profane Language

About five uses each of "a--," "d--n" and "h---." There's one misuse of God's name. We hear crude references to women's breasts.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Geppetto chews on an unlit cigar. People drink and pose with champagne. Beer is quaffed. Some folks drink to excess.

Other Negative Elements

David discovers that Mexican food does not agree with him: While lounging in a pool something erupts inside him, leaving the water surrounding him brown.

David also is given a dead tarantula to eat (as practice in case he needs to live off the land). Juice squirts out of the furry beast, and Kelly nearly throws up watching.

Jandice passes gas in David's face during their engagement photo shoot. There's talk of stealing "tiny wheelchairs from pediatric hospitals." There's also talk of urinating in a mason jar.


It's appropriate, I guess, that Masterminds invokes Pinocchio at times—the Disney version of which encourages the title character to let "conscience be your guide." In the original un-Disneyfied version of that tale, the wayward wooden boy smashes the cricket with a mallet pretty much as soon as he can.

David and his cohorts steal more than $17 million from Loomis Fargo and the banks that the company serves. David seems super-duper interested in cheating on his fiancée. And while characters may fret about consequences, rarely are they haunted by anything like their consciences.

Here's the one exception: When it looks as if David's going to be double-crossed by Geppetto, Kelly says, "This is wrong!" Never mind that that sudden burst of ethical concern was precipitated by a $17 million bank robbery.

By PG-13 standards, Masterminds doesn't push the envelope to the edge in terms of sexual content, violence or profanity. But, man, the film's underlying, conscience-free ethos is just sad.

Granted, given the bevy of Saturday Night Live alumni involved, this thing plays out like a wacky, extended skit (one that, like SNL itself, tends to go on a bit too long). And, obviously, the movie's makers aren't literally encouraging anyone to rob a bank.

But if the opportunity came along to do so? Or maybe just pocket the money from a wallet dropped on the side of the road? Hey, more power to you, Masterminds suggests. After all, morality only matters if you get caught.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range





Zach Galifianakis as David Ghantt; Kristen Wiig as Kelly Campbell; Owen Wilson as Steve Chambers; Jason Sudeikis as Mike McKinney; Kate McKinnon as Jandice; Mary Elizabeth Ellis as Michelle; Leslie Jones and Jon Daly as FBI detectives


Jared Hess ( )


Relativity Media



Record Label



In Theaters

September 30, 2016

On Video

January 31, 2017

Year Published



Paul Asay

Content Caution

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