Director: Jason Headley
Cast: Matt Jones, Eleanore Pienta, Will Rogers, Sam Eidson, Johnny Mars, and
Production Companies: Red Entertainment and Ten Acre Films
Runtime: 85 mins
“We’re burglars, not assholes.” – Leo
I sat down with Matt Jones, Eleanore Pienta, and director Jason Headley at this year’s SXSW to talk about their new film, A Bad Idea Gone Wrong. As a fan of the series Breaking Bad, I jumped at the opportunity to talk with Jones but after reading the film’s synopsis, I questioned whether viewing it was worth my time.
The story centers around Leo (Will Rogers) and Marlon (Jones), two would be thieves looking for their first big score. After ruling out the usual locations like banks and cash heavy businesses, Leo locates the perfect target, a fancy house in a rich, gated community. Upon entering the home, they accidentally arm the alarm system and have to break out of the house they just broke into. Things get even more complicated when they discover Darcy (Pienta) is unexpectedly house sitting. The duo suddenly finds themselves dealing with a hostage situation, sexual tension, and a startling revelation about the house.
There was no trailer and I could only find one publicity photo from the film. Frankly, the premise sounded silly and not something I’d want to watch. I figured Headley would go the Dumb and Dumber route making Leo and Marlon so dimwitted, the audience might actually believe the premise. Reluctantly, I decided to check out the movie anyway and boy, was I wrong. By the time it was over, it was one of my favorite SXSW films.
A Bad Idea Goes Wrong opens with Leo and Marlon sitting in a diner discussing potential targets, reminiscent of the opening scene in Pulp Fiction. The preconceived notions I had about the film quickly went out the door. I’ve always found casual conversation, such as two people sitting in a diner, difficult to pull off. As actors recite their lines, the scene often loses the casual feel and doesn’t come across as natural as it should. Listening to Leo and Marlon discussing their options, I became so enthralled it felt like I was sitting in the booth with them. The dialogue between Jones and Rogers is so fluid, it’s impossible not to be drawn into the story.
A Bad Idea Gone Wrong isn’t your typical comedy. Sadly, when some people think of recent comedies, they only think of dumb downed films like Neighbors 2, Dirty Grandpa, and Masterminds. A Bad Idea Gone Wrong is a different kind of comedy that’s hard to categorize. That’s not to say the film isn’t funny; the jokes are simply more intimate, like an inside joke only you and your best friend find amusing. Given the two main characters, the film easily could have been reduced to scatological humor. Instead, Headley’s writing is crisp while maintaining a simpleminded elegance that fits the characters.
To be honest, I didn’t realize how much I was enjoying A Bad Idea Gone Wrong until I found myself literally whispering to a character during a final scene. As outrageous as the premise is, the ending is absolutely beautiful; the fact that you see an element of it coming makes it even more special.
As far as films go, it doesn’t get more basic than A Bad Idea Gone Wrong. There’s no elaborate sets, CGI creatures, or exotic locales, just three people alone in a house. What makes the film special is the cast. The chemistry among Jones, Rogers, and Pienta is wonderful, making it no surprise the film won a Best Ensemble Cast award at SXSW. Instead of a collection of scenes, you feel like you’re a part of a conversation among friends as they explore the house. Having had the opportunity to talk to Jones, Headley, and Pienta, it’s clear they sincerely enjoy each other’s company. I enjoyed the trio so much, I wish Headley would immediately get to work on a sequel. Heck, given the low budget approach, perhaps he could turn it into a series.
Having only directed short films and web shorts, this is writer/director Headley’s first feature outing and he scored big. A Bad Idea Gone Wrong doesn’t pretend to be a big Hollywood blockbuster; it doesn’t need to be. Headley has created an entertaining feel-good heist movie involving characters you will enjoy and root for. I’m thankful I gave A Bad Idea Gone Wrong a chance and when the film gets a wider release, I thoroughly recommend you check it out.
Following is my interview with Jones, Headley, and Pienta.
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Photos: ©2017 Ten Acre Films LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: ©2017 SXSW, South By Southwest® are trademarks owned by SXSW, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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