With its convoluted plot, manic energy, and slapstick shenanigans--the lightweight, but enjoyable, "Flypaper" plays like the equivalent of an elaborately staged murder mystery dinner. You're not really meant, however, to follow the clues to their logical conclusions or be able to deduce the central conundrum. No, it's best to just let the silliness unfold on and around itself. To thoroughly enjoy the comic mayhem, one has to let go of reason and go with the flow of the sitcom stylings. Most, I think, will be willing to do so as "Flypaper" certainly stacks the deck with an astute cast of notable performers--all gamely hamming it up to maximum affect. Patrick Dempsey and Ashley Judd headline this piece, but the impressive supporting roster includes Tim Blake Nelson, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Jeffrey Tambor, Rob Huebel (always a welcome presence), Octavia Spencer (ditto), Mekhi Phifer, and Curtis Armstrong. No one gets much actual characterization, really, more than a cursory quirk or two--most just exist to play a possible suspect in the overly-plotted comic thriller.
As "Flypaper" opens, we get a brief introduction to the varied members on staff at the quaintest little bank you're likely to encounter. Judd is a teller and Dempsey is a jumble of tics as a socially awkward customer, who happens to be a savant of sorts. Before you know it, the bank is raided by two distinct groups of bandits--one tech savvy (Phifer, John Ventimiglia, and a great Matt Ryan) and one bumbling idiots (Blake Nelson and Taylor Vince, no surprise there!). As everyone gets trapped in a lockdown (don't worry, police intervention is conveniently absent from the consideration), Dempsey starts to piece together that a more elaborate scenario is in play and the conflicting robberies are just part of something more nefarious. Before the night is out, there will be many secrets uncovered. As everyone scrambles around the bank in full slapstick mode, there is plenty of silly fun. But beware, there is also a surprising body count as we come closer and closer to the truth.
A movie like "Flypaper" certainly isn't meant to be taken seriously. It's a simple bit of fun. There is not much subtlety to be found. If you like over-the-top acting and outrageousness, this might be a fitfully diverting entertainment. If you are less keen on slapstick comedy, this might not be your first pick. I did enjoy "Flypaper," largely because of the talented and appealing cast. But I think the murder mystery theater comparison is apt. Lightweight and amusing, it's not necessarily something that will linger in your mind beyond watching it once. However, for something so frothy, there is a fair bit of strong language and an unexpected amount of violence. If you are more sensitive to these elements, you might take note. Part comedy, part mystery--this heist picture is an engaging and amusing romp. KGHarris, 11/11.