Written, directed and starring Michael LiCastri, three recent college graduates are struggling to find work, when one of them finds out that he and his family are about to be evicted and that an old classmate recently won the lottery, they decide to kidnap him for a share of the winnings. Also starring: David Plowden, Keith Surplus, Brian Ballance, Edwin Neal, Linnea Quigley and Yvelisse Cedrez.
Coming up with a crazy idea to earn some quick cash or turning to crime in a time of need is a beloved trope of cinema with unlimited possibilities of chaos and calamity, so putting together three very inexperienced young men to dive headfirst into a kidnapping was bound for some mishaps. However, surprisingly for the most part the story goes entirely smoothly, there’s no major incidents or injuries, the script chose to focus instead on a simpler style of humour. It’s akin to a 1980s sit-com, it’s an obvious type of comedy, one that’s always reaching for the next punch line and it’s one that won’t work for everyone. A comparison could be made to a film like 30 Minutes or Less but the writing style plays it much safer, it throws in the odd curse word and innuendo but for the most part it feels like a PG script trying to add a little R rating and struggling to hit the right note.
The comedy also struggles to land as the acting similarly follows that tone of a sit-com, it’s somewhat wooden and trying too hard, preventing it from feeling natural. The dialogue between them unfortunately feels too constructed, they don’t feel like conversations but set-ups, and it needed a little time establishing its characters and their bond in a more casual way to give them a more easy-going chemistry. That’s not to say that they don’t make convincing friends, one of the most convincing aspects of the three lead performances from LiCastri, Plowden and Surplus is the friendship between them. 1980s horror fans will be happy to see a cameo from Graduation Day and The Return of the Living Dead alumnus Linnea Quigley, it’s fairly short-lived but provides a funny tangent from the story at hand, throwing in a little variety.
One of the issues with this film is that while the story itself does work, its energy is entirely one-note, there’s no real ups and down or larger personality to it, it remains on one level for the whole film. It’s a shame to not see some more of that chaos and nervous energy that you might expect from a film like this; it’s too easy and too smooth, it needed a few bumps in the road to give it more character and something to stand out. The direction is otherwise solid work, it fits the style of story and there’s no notable issues with its shot choices or cinematography, it just sadly needed something more.
The Best Laid Plans has a good concept and the best of intentions but ultimately plays it far too safe to achieve the ragtag crime story that it’s going for. It’s trying so hard to hit its punch lines that it forgets to develop its characters and their friendship further to build a more natural and convincing atmosphere. It would have been great to see them add an edge of violence or a sharp tongue to push it more towards an R-rated adventure but sadly, it sticks very consistently to the one note that it’s playing.