Tyro scripter-helmer Andrew Jenkins' amateurish, half-hearted romantic comedy-cum-heist film twists itself into unconvincing knots to pull off a guilt-free bank robbery.

Tyro scripter-helmer Andrew Jenkins’ amateurish, half-hearted romantic comedy-cum-heist film twists itself into unconvincing knots to pull off a guilt-free bank robbery. Leads Nick Stahl and Erika Christensen struggle mightily to inject the illusion of wit into terminally lame dialogue, but can’t fill in the many blanks of their characters. Action, mainly consisting of worried pacing, posing and talking on cell phones, jazzed up by gimmicky, rapid-fire montages, collapses completely during pic’s incoherently shot climax. “How to Rob a Bank” opens Feb. 8 at Gotham’s IFC Center and is wisely relegated to midnight-only showings.

Pic opens in medias res with Jinx (Stahl) locked in a bank vault with sexy thief Jessica (Christensen), Jinx having interrupted a robbery in progress. Tired of being “nickeled and dimed” to death by the system, and encouraged by Jessica to assert himself, lovable loser Jinx deftly outmaneuvers criminal masterminds, jumpy gunmen and a police inspector via cell phone to resolve the standoff and abscond with the loot (improbably consisting solely of ATM surcharges). Largely confined to a vault, pic even fails to convey claustrophobia.

How to Rob a Bank

Production

An IFC Films release and presentation, in association with Rick Lashbrook Films, Williamsburg Media Cult, Villa Entertainment Group, of a Rick Lashbrook Films, Williamsburg Media Cult, Villa Entertainment Group production. Produced by Lashbrook, Darby Parker, Arthur Sarkissian, Tim O'Hair. Executive producers, Randolph De Lano, Tamara De Lano, Peter Sussman. Co-producer, Brent Morris. Directed, written by Andrew Jenkins.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Joseph Meade; editor, M. Scott Smith; music, Dider Lean Rachou. Reviewed on DVD, New York, Feb. 4, 2008. (In Los Angeles Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 81 MIN.

With

Nick Stahl, Erika Christensen, Gavin Rossdale, Terry Crews, David Carradine.

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