Zach Galifianakis, Hollywood’s go-to goof-off of the moment, is back at it in “Masterminds.” He’s back to playing a man-child very much in the mold of his “Hangover” character, which is to say someone who is a quarter of the way to being a half-wit.
The character, David Ghantt, is the movie’s interpretation of a man who in 1997 robbed $17 million in cash from the armored car company he worked for in Charlotte, North Carolina. The way Galifianakis plays him, you can barely imagine him being able to tie his own shoes, let alone pull off a heist.
With his Dutch-boy haircut and peculiar accent — Southern, I guess — Ghantt blunders through the story. The tone is set early on when he accidentally shoots himself in the butt at a firing range. Funny. Later, he’ll eat a tarantula — Eewww! Gross! But funny! — and poop in a swimming pool — Eewww! Just gross.
But at least Galifianakis, throws himself full-bore into the proceedings, which is more than can be said of his co-stars. As the co-worker at the armored car company who sweet-talks him into robbing the place, Kristen Wiig seems game but barely engaged with her part. And in the role of her co-conspirator who actually orchestrates the robbery, Owen Wilson is just going through the motions. Whenever he’s on screen, the picture downshifts into neutral.
Director Jared Hess, best known for “Napoleon Dynamite,” wants to depict these people as low-rent (their habitats are mobile homes) oddballs along the lines of his “Napoleon” characters, but there’s none of the good-natured whimsy that characterized that picture in “Masterminds.” There are some genuinely funny bits, but alas, far too few.
☆☆ out of 5
Cast: Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Mary Elizabeth Ellis.
Director: Jared Hess.
Running time: 1:35.
Rated: PG-13, for crude and sexual humor, some language and violence.