Bomb Rating: 

Apparently, director Barry Levinson got the idea in his head that a hip movie requires tons of hip music, because no more than five minutes of this bank robber film ever goes by without being interrupted by some screeching pop song. Another idea that Levinson got in his head was that because he's a respected director, he can make his light, pointless movies thirty minutes longer than the regular light, pointless movie.

Levinson should stick to the kind of crap that makes film critics use phrases like "touching nostalgic look back" and "personal vision"; films like "Liberty Heights" and "Avalon." You know the films -- the films nobody has ever seen, the films that cure insomnia, the films that sent audiences or scurrying out of the theater to catch the last thirty minutes of "Beastmaster 3."

Every single character in "Bandits" is eccentric, which is the amateur screenwriter's way of saying, "I don't have a real story, so I've made all the characters really weird for your entertainment." Joe (Bruce Willis) and Terry (Billy Bob Thornton) break out of prison and fall into bank robbing. Joe has an anger-management problem and Terry is a hypochondriac. See, they're eccentric. This makes absolutely no sense in the context of the movie since Joe decides to be nice to people he robs and Terry ends up planning the robberies. We're supposed to be amused by their antics because robbing people at gunpoint is really fun, hardly scary at all when done correctly. Their driver is Joe's cousin, a young, stupid kid who wants to be a Hollywood stuntman and we're supposed to laugh at all the stupid things he says because he's funny-stupid, not mandatory-vasectomy stupid.

Kate (Cate Blanchett) plays an unsatisfied housewife who derives satisfaction from belting out the occasional '80s female empowerment pop song and driving like a maniac. She accidentally hits Terry with her car and ends up as a member of their gang. Together, they're called the "sleepover bandits" because they go to the bank manager's house the night before and stay there so they can be the first ones to the bank. Kate falls in love with both Joe and Terry. Together, she says, they are the perfect man.

"Bandits" is the perfect example of a "great" movie that exists only in Hollywood's imagination. Supposedly, it gives these actors a unique opportunity to stretch themselves, but it's all done in such a vacuum that its humorous moments seem far more forced than funny.

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