Writer: Bart Layton (Screenplay)
Starring: Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, Ann Dowd, Udo Kier
Plot: Four young men mistake their lives for a movie and attempt one of the most audacious heists in U.S. history.
Tagline – Nobody wants to be ordinary
Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Way Too Slow
Story: American Animals starts as we see the heist about to take place, rewinding us 18 months where we meet Spencer Reinhardt (Keoghan) an art student in Transylvania University, struggling with his identity, turning to his streetwise friend Warren Lipka (Peters) the two discuss the potential of stealing rare expensive books from the library.
As the idea turns into a plan they bring in Chas Allen (Jenner) and Eric Borsuk (Abrahamson), can they make this plan come off, well the answer is no because as we see the planning we meet the real thieves now in their 30s discussing what they remember about the idea.
Thoughts on American Animals
Characters – Warren is the streetwise student on a scholarship, not living up to his potential, he will always get things down however illegal they might be. He is the one that brings the team together to make this happen even if he is also the one that gets them in the most problems. Spencer is the art student that comes up with the idea because he is sick of not standing out in the art world, looking for the pain be believes artist require. He is all in with the planning but when it comes to following through he thinks they will need to go too far. Chas is the getaway driver, he has the most money which helps with the planning of the heist. Eric becomes the brains learning where things could and would go wrong if they do it in certain directions. We do also meet the adult versions of these characters in the real version that are looking back on the crime they committed.
Performances – Evan Peters is the clear highlight in this film, he always comes off unpredictable which seeing the older versions of the characters you completely understand too. Barry Keoghan does play the stranger member of the crew well, he is the one that is happy to plan not commit a crime, he needs to be straighter faced than Peters character. When it comes to the rest of the cast they are fine without needing to do that much.
Story – The story here is based on the real story of four university students that robbed the rare book collection in the library of their university. The way the story is told is interesting because it does both help and hinder the film, having a mix of the actors playing the younger versions and the real men talking about the events does give the story a documentary feel. Where this does hinder the story is by telling us that they failed early on and are now just remembering what happen which takes away any excitement or edge of your set moments towards anything going on. There are moments in the story which are good to watch, for example the scene where they are watching heist movies to learn how to pull it off and seeing the pitch perfect plan in Warren’s head. If we are being honest, the story is about 20 minutes too long because the opening hour just drags you along, once the heist gets underway things get more exciting but by then you might see the audience lose interest.
Crime – The crime follows a real heist that happened at the same university, we get to see how it was planned, how things went down and seeing the consequences the boys felt.
Settings – The film is mostly set in and around the university, this helps for any heist film, we do get moments where we step away, but that is for the plan which does work when you see how the boys are out of their depth at times.
Final Thoughts – This is an overly long heist movie that drags along at a horribly slow pace, once things kick off we do get some interest, but the fact we have the real criminals involved in telling the story we know the outcome.
Overall: Just watch for Evan Peters being slightly crazy.