Review: Life of Crime

Funny girl: Aniston plays pulp fiction


It's hard to think of an author who has had more novels turned into movies than Elmore Leonard. The author who died last year, aged 87, had the kind of page-to-screen success that other pulp fiction novelists could only dream about and there's no disputing the quality of the stories. Among the classics are 3:10 to Yuma, Out of Sight, Get Shorty, Jackie Brown and now writer-director Daniel Schechter's Life of Crime, an adaptation of the novel, The Switch. Leonard was executive producer of this film and he certainly must have been pleased as by all accounts it is faithful to his work and as a result stylish, funny and bursting with off-the-wall, but believably human characters.

The plot is a hoot and husbands will appreciate it more than they should as it is about the kidnapping of Mickey (Jennifer Aniston), the wife of a dodgy real estate developer, Frank Dawson (Tim Robbins) by second-rate criminals who demand a $1 million ransom. Only trouble is Frank is actually on holiday in the Bahamas with his mistress Melanie (Isla Fisher) and the kidnapping - "pay us the money or you'll never see your wife again" - could not have come at a better time as he plans to divorce his mistreated spouse and her demise would put an end to any alimony payments.

This throws a spanner in the works for the naive thugs Ordell (Mos Def) and Louis (John Hawkes), who thought they had Frank cornered when they found out about his illegal assets in an offshore account. Their situation is not helped by the fact that they are also working with Richard (Mark Boone Jr), a fat slob with a Nazi fetish who has allowed them to use his home for hostage storage. The look on Aniston's face when she pulls off her balaclava to see framed paintings of Hitler is priceless and made all the funnier by Louis, who tells her that Richard's memorabilia is worth big bucks. I never have a problem with Aniston, who, in my opinion, can play as well for laughs as she does for tears.

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