life_of_crimeDespite its massive success, the stars of the sitcom Friends have struggled to make an impact in any of their subsequent projects. Matt Le Blanc and Courtney Cox have achieved some critical plaudits for Episodes and Cougar Town on the small screen, but only Jennifer Aniston has had a prolonged film career. Even in her case, her star seems to be waning, as this her latest film, has received the most limited of releases in this country.

Aniston plays Mickey, the wife of the rich and corrupt property developer Frank Dawson (Tim Robbins). Two small time crooks – Ordell (Mos Def) and Louis (John Hawkes) hatch a plan to kidnap Mickey and ransom her for a million dollars. The flaw in their scheme is that Frank is tired of Mickey, is planning on divorcing her, and doesn’t particularly want her back…

If the plot sounds familiar, that’s because it was used for the funny 1986 movie Ruthless People, which had an “original” screenplay. Life of Crime is based on the book, Switch, written by the legendary crime writer Elmore Leonard in 1978, so whilst it is not a remake of the Abrahams and Zucker comedy, the plot twists are pretty familiar. Fortunately, there is Leonard’s smart dialogue and an impressive ensemble cast to make up for the well worn plot.

Aniston is a reliable comedic actress and she has nice chemistry with Hawkes, who manages to make Louis a sympathetic figure despite his criminal activity. Robbins, and the underrated Isla Fisher as Frank’s mistress are also noteworthy. Will Forte, so good in Nebraska last year, makes little impression as a family friend of the Dawsons who is in love with Mickey.

This is all fairly light stuff and won’t live in the memory for long, but you should get a couple of hours entertainment when this film makes its inevitably quick appearance on DVD and / or on demand in the next couple of months.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

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