The Maiden Heist [Import]
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It was a stroke of genius. But now the perfect crime is turning into a perfect disaster in this madcap comedy featuring Academy Award winners MORGAN FREEMAN (Best Supporting Actor, Million Dollar Baby, 2004), CHRISTOPHER WALKEN (Best Supporting Actor, The Deer Hunter, 1978), MARCIA GAY HARDEN (Best Supporting Actress, Pollock, 2000) and Academy Award nominee WILLIAM H. MACY (Best Supporting Actor, Fargo, 1996). Charles, Roger and George are the very picture of honest security guards. But when they learn their favorite artworks are being sent to another museum, they concoct a plan to switch the real masterpieces with fakes. All goes well until a mistake forces these first-time thieves into a last-minute escapade in the comedy caper that proves you're never too old to have some new fun.
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The Maiden Heist, to judge from the clapboards, was originally titled The Maiden Lady from the painting that Christopher Walken is obsessed with. This film answers the question if museum guards actually like the art they protect. The three guards of the story - Christopher Walken, Morgan Freeman and William H. Macey - are all obsessed with different pieces of art. They feel very protective about their art so when they learn that the entire exhibit will be moved to a museum in Denmark and replaced by some avant-guard art, they decide to save their favorites.
Morgan Freeman plays a soft-spoken affable man who enjoys drawing and painting; William H. Macey's character claims he was a Marine but changes his combat stories and Christopher Walken is a quiet homebody who daydreams about protecting his Maiden Lady from ant harm. Marcia Gay Harden has a marvelous supporting role as Christopher Walken's wife who-must-be-obeyed.
The fun of the film is that the three guards fumble their way through the heist. There are many funny scenes in the film but also some that stretch the imagination. The conclusion of the film is one of real charm and understanding. The DVD comes with bonus features that include a making of the film, deleted scenes and bloopers. The many scenes that were deleted struck me as wise decisions. The performances are what make this film and are excellent even when the material is lacking.
The story follows three museum guards as they decide to pull off a heist of their favorite artwork after the museum sells the pieces off. Each of these guys have their own weird little nuances that make them the perfect trio of dysfunctional museum guards, but most of their backgrounds are never really delved into. Most of what we get are three old guys trying to be something more than they ever have been - but in a low-key semi-realistic kind of way. Morgan Freeman plays the affable "sexually questionable" (from the making-of) character which just did not feel right, and Christopher Walken really only gets to be himself in the opening sequence (a great shoot-out dream sequence - loved it). The supplements are decent and include:
* 17:45 minute making-of. It is a little too heavy towards being reliant on film clips but the remaining half of the documentary gives some average background on what the four A-listers thought about their characters. Gives some good insight into why Marcia Gay Harden is so retro in this film.
* 12:19 minutes of deleted scenes. Glad they were cut - especially the corny museum guard supporting cast trying to be funny.
* 3 minutes of bloopers. Funny once or twice.
* Commentary by the main crew. Unless you really need to know how great it is to work with the main four actors then just stick with the making of.
Have to admit I love the writing at the end of the film with regards to Marcia Gay Harden's character - she is a beauty. 3.5 for the film and .5 for the extras. Not an action film or an outright comedy, but just a light take on some old guys trying to make their masterpieces stay in their lives.
He stares at a painting entitled "The Lonely Maiden", and has fallen deeply in love with it over the years, while his very attentive and loving wife (Harden) waits patiently for him to come back around to her. She does not know about his love affair with the painting, and she comes off as kind and doting. SHE is the lonely maiden. I figured that out early. Walken is entranced with the painting, when all the while the true lonely maiden was right in front of him. Of course, he loves his wife and is attached to her forever (you can tell that they have an old-fashioned and sadly-gone view of marriage--stick it out to the end no matter what). And as he plans the heist with his fellow security guards, he keeps his wife's needs in mind the whole time. There is also a very sweet happy ending for these two (Shhhh).
Macy's character is married but we only know that because he said so. Macy's character is an odd one. He has some dubious military training and takes leadership in the heist. And he likes to get naked in front of a nude male statue... nothing more. Really. Just strip down and pose in front of it.
Freeman's character likes cats (and obviously has no wife). Any man who likes cats is okay in my book!
This heist movie is fun and friendly; we enjoyed rollicking around town with these three old guys.
BOTTOM LINE: if you like grumpy-old-men, this is like not-so-grumpy old men. They make you laugh and wince, and you may still be smiling when you're done. There are also some hilarious bloopers in the special features. SWEET!
Enjoy the movie!
Ellen C Maze, author
Almost slapstick at times, the film moves fairly briskly after the plan is hatched and the pieces begin to fall into place. Walken is deadpan and anxious and charmingly himself. Freeman plays an accomplished painter who has painted "his" painting many, many times but lacks the certain aura. His cats keep him company when he is not obsessing over his lovely painting. Macy plays a military man who may or may not have served anywhere even though his tales imply near-superhero skills.
Those who don't like slow-moving character pieces or artsy-quirky fun probably should skip it. Also, if you don't particularly want to see Macy's naked behind several times, well, this isn't the film for you. He poses. Often. Not creepy as much as it is just weird.
The plot involves two museum security guards who've fallen in love with two paintings, and a third guard who has . . . some other relationship with a statue, destined to be sold to another museum and replaced by suitable horrific modern art repellent to the guys, namely Christopher Walken, Morgan Freeman and William Macy. By the title you can tell what their solution is, so I need say no more about that.
The tone is light, comedic, but there are no real out-loud laughs, despite best efforts. Obviously the acting is very good, the chemistry works, but there are very large holes in reason and common sense. That shouldn't bother you if you don't expect too much out of the movie, but it might be rather annoying at times to some. Still, overall it worked reasonably well, too bad it didn't get a chance at the mall.