Strenuous and just fitfully amusing, “Flypaper” finds two sets of bank robbers mixing it up with hostages and booby traps during an attempted job. A first collaboration between scenarists Scott Moore and Jon Lucas (written a decade before their breakthrough, “The Hangover”), the script plays like one of the innumerable expletive-riddled, snarky crime capers that followed in “Pulp Fiction’s” wake, and perhaps should have stayed in the trunk. Slick but instantly forgettable item has tepid theatrical prospects, though it’s the sort of serviceable time-killer that will play forever on cable.
Bank teller Kaitlin (Ashley Judd) is about to close up for the day when eccentric, flirtatious customer Tripp (Patrick Dempsey) strolls up asking for $100 in change … in coins. Next thing you know, he’s leaping over the counter and pinning her to the floor — albeit only to get her out of the way of various armed men who are now taking over the joint, killing an unknown man (later revealed as an FBI agent) in the initial chaos.
Adding to the confusion, it turns out there are not one but two heists going on here: On the upper scale, three slick, high-tech thieves (Mekhi Phifer, Matt Ryan, John Ventimiglia) are executing an elaborately worked-out scheme to break into the bank vault. On the other, lower end of the criminal spectrum, two seriously dim yokels (Tim Blake Nelson, Pruitt Taylor Vance) have also chosen this moment to attempt looting the indoor ATMs.
Both plans quickly go awry, for reasons that compulsively interfering Tripp (his reckless behavior is attributed to being off his medication) begins to deduce aren’t just bad luck, but part of some strange conspiracy that might be an inside job using the criminals as disposable patsies. Their ranks, and those of the less sympathetic hostages, thin as this mystery thickens, amid lots of yelling, explosions and gunfire.
After directing a declining series of family titles (from “The Lion King” to the uninspired Jackie Chan fantasy “The Forbidden Kingdom”), ex-animator Rob Minkoff signed on to “Flypaper” as a change of pace. But the script’s load of F-bombs alone can’t make this all-too-familiar genre exercise edgy. It all too quickly seems less a watered-down “Killing Zoe” than a crassed-up comedy-whodunit in the creaky mode of “Clue: The Movie” or “Murder by Death.” (Tripp even has a line that tips the hat to Agatha Christie.)
It’s the kind of movie that depends on being fast and funny enough for viewers to overlook big gaps in character and story logic; unfortunately, many won’t be diverted enough to ignore them. For every good line there’s a clunker, and pic contributes to the current bad-comedy quotient of gay jokes. Mostly, “Flypaper” just fizzles, despite (or partly because of) the frequently shrill energy expended by helmer, thesps and John Swihart’s incessant score.
Perf styles run a gamut from frantically farcical (Dempsey) to deadpan (Judd) and various points in between, but broad material and execution here allow no one to be seen at their best. Widescreen production, shot in Baton Rouge during last summer’s heat wave and oil spill, is glossy in all tech/design departments. Print screened at Sundance lacked final credits crawl.