Writer-director Jason Headley makes a great feature film debut with “A Bad Idea Gone Wrong,” an indie comedy about two friends who manage to bungle an easy robbery job. This light picture owes some of its DNA to bigger stoner comedies, but also lacks some of their vibrancy and momentum.
The amateur criminals, Marlon (Matt Jones) and Leo (Will Rogers), target a house in an affluent gated community. Leo is certain the job will be easy, as the owners are out on vacation.
Breaking in is a piece of cake, but once they’re inside, Marlon accidentally arms the alarm system, locking them within. To complicate matters, there’s another intruder - a woman who calls herself “Darcy” (Eleanore Pienta) - that has been staying uninvited in the house for several days. Trapped together, the three criminals must cooperate to get out without attracting the police.
Over the course of their stay, it becomes clear to the group that Leo has chosen the house because it is where his ex-fiancée now lives with her new boyfriend. He’s after the engagement ring he gave her as vengeance for how she mistreated him, but when he sees she’s kept the Niagara Falls lamp he gave her, he begins to wonder if she still has feelings for him
“A Bad Idea Gone Wrong” has a strong opening act that quickly and humorously ties the three protagonists into a messy situation. However, its middle section fails to sustain the energy, and though the writing is witty, it’s not as clever as it could be. The 85-minute running time feels a little longer than it should, and
Jones, remembered most for his comedic role as “Badger” in “Breaking Bad,” is the standout of the trio, playing his character as charmingly goofy. Marlon has a quirky obsession with a trivia radio show that awards cash prizes for answering obscure questions, and it serves as a nice running gag throughout the film.
Leo isn’t much different from the average rom-com protagonist who has lost the love of his life. He quickly hits it off with Darcy, though, and their scene in which they discover a shared love of erotic asphyxiation is one of the film’s highlights.
When Leo’s affections for his old fiancée continue even after he grows closer to Darcy, she reveals a darkly comic side to herself. She shows she’s willing to screw over the guys several times to get what she wants, but her sneaky nature ultimately proves useful when the going gets tough.
Headley doesn’t quite stick the landing at the film’s climax, which doesn’t pose much of a challenge for the trio as it should. The close calls are few in number and not all that suspenseful, and the actors keep it a little too light for any threat to their freedom to be taken seriously.
“A Bad Idea Gone Wrong” has a lot of good ideas, some of which could have used better execution. But thanks to a good cast, it manages to stay interesting even when the writing falters.
“A Bad Idea Gone Wrong”
Running Time: 85 minutes
Score: 3/5 stars