Bandits, bank robbing bandits, that is.   Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton play Joe and Terry, two escaped convicts whose unique way of committing heists earns them the nickname 'The Sleepover Bandits'.  Joe is the burly impulsive type prone to violence, while Terry is the meek intellectual who also happens to be an extreme hypochondriac.  Along for the ride is Cate Blanchett, who plays Kate, the willing, emotionally unstable hostage and main source of romantic conflict for Joe and Terry to contend with.  Yes, it's The Odd Couple plus one on the run in this sprawling caper comedy.
   
    With three very quirky main characters in a multitude of absurd situations,  comic merriment would seem virtually guaranteed, right?  Wrong, but almost right.  The problem is that goofy character-types are only interesting if there is believable chemistry between them.  In Bandits, this chemistry never really takes hold.  Joe, Terry, Kate and most of the other characters in the movie are wildly eccentric and self-centered, but because they don't really seem to care about each other, the audience has little reason to care about them either. 
     
    The plotline unfolds using an interesting format, which attempts to blend a standard plot progression with events that take place before and after what would normally be considered the end of the story.  You could call this editing style that of a simplified Pulp Fiction.  Unfortunately, this 'flashback within a flashback' technique isn't very successful in Bandits, with the most awkward scenes involving stand-up comedian Bobby Slayton, who plays the host of an America's Most Wanted-type television program.  Especially flawed are his interview scenes with Joe and Terry, which chronicle the exploits of the 'Sleepover Bandits', but are unnecessary to the overall story.  Credit these scenes for Bandits other most noticable flaw, it's draggingly long running time.
   
    As far as acting is concerned, Willis, Thornton and Blanchett do a fine job with their respective characters, but the interactions between each of them are so disjointed that these quality performances are all but wasted.  Perhaps each of these characters should have had their own separate movies!
    
    So, while there are many interesting ideas, entertaining scenes and random moments of clever humor throughout Bandits, none of them ever quite combine to create an entirely good film.  See Bandits at your own risk.

A.J.'s Rating: 2.5 Sleepover Stars
Bandits
Directed By:  Barry Levinson
Written By:  Harley Payton
Starring:  Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thorton, Cate Blanchett, Bobby Slayton, Anthony Burch
Rated:  PG-13 (Language / Violence / Sexual Content)
Running Time:  125 Min.
Bland-its
Review published
October 12, 2001
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