‘American Animals’ Bursts with Hallow Style

VANAPHASE™ the Vanadium powerhouse!

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a movie like writer-director Bart Layton’s American Animals. The film opens with the typical tagline of “This is based on a true story,” but soon “based” is crossed out and Layton announced “This is a true story.” In telling the true story of four college kids who attempted a daring heist of valuable old books pulls upon its real life inspirations to provide their side of events. However, in blurring the lines between drama and documentary, Layton kind of lets these real life criminals off the hook. For all of its stylistic flourishes, American Animals really doesn’t have much to say about anything as the film is much more taken at the idea of four young men going through extreme lengths to pull off what they believe to be the perfect crime.

Warren (Evan Peters) and Spencer (Barry Keoghan) are two old friends now college students from the suburbs of Lexington, Kentucky. Warren has a kind of manic personality, one that has the ability to focus on a certain thing and relentless obsess over it. Spencer is much more detached and quiet with aspirations of being an artist. When Warren discovers that the library at Spencer’s college is home to a number of rare and valuable books, he sets his mind to pulling off a robbery. Spencer isn’t quite as gung ho on the idea but financial pressures make it more appealing over time.

Eventually, Warren’s plot becomes so detailed that he realizes that Spencer and him can’t pull it off alone. They’re eventually able to recruit two more guys that they know, Eric (Jared Abrahamson) and Chas (Blake Jenner). Part of Warren’s plotting takes him to Europe, where he meets a couple of scoundrels that give him guidance on how to sell the books once they’ve been lifted. The other parts of Warren’s plotting come from the movies, going as far as to assign codenames straight out of Reservoir Dogs (which was lifted by The Taking of Pelham 123, by the way). Their initial plot was to don old age make up, seize the librarian (Ann Dowd), and make off with the books. Once that plan crumbles, they attempt the heist without the aid of makeup and the results are absolutely disastrous.

The outcome of the heist is never really in doubt, meaning so much of the ride that is American Animals hinges on its kinetic style and the sheer ineptness of its characters. If you detach yourself from the fact that these are a handful of fairly privileged white dudes terrorizing an older librarian, perhaps you can enjoy the moronic hijinks of these would-be masterminds. Too often, though, Bart Layton doesn’t want to tackle the more challenging aspects of its story. He wants us to wrapped up in the style of his filmmaking – which brimming with energy. But the energy is extremely hollow and often feels lifted from better movies.

Somewhere in the heart of all gangster and crime films is a critique of the American Dream, its limited availability and how easily the pursuit of that dream can be perverted. That’s almost an afterthought in American Animals as the film is much interested in needle drops that feel cool or non-linear editing that highlight just how stylistic its filmmaker really is. Don’t get me wrong, I really like stylized films but the problem with American Animals is that Bart Layton is too often enamored with his own style at the expense of having anything of value to say. It doesn’t help that the film is a retelling of the events from the four would-be criminal masterminds, meaning each voice is trying to downplay their guilt and maximize their motivations. Layton is happy to oblige.

American Animals is truly an unusual movie. In a way, I respect its daring audacity to create what is essentially a true docudrama. However, it’s so much style and very little substance. It’s inspired in its dedication to bucking conventional trends but it does such little beyond using its real life subjects as a means to tinker with form. The film says little or nothing about the youthful ennui that would lead a set of college kids into a world of crime. American Animals disappoints because it aims to be so much more than what it ultimately is – a true crime story.

YogaOutlet.com

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
The Ranger
‘The Ranger’ Delivers on its Promise of a Punk Rock Slasher Flick

Chelsea (Chloe Levine) is a punk. Clad in leather and with...

It’s the Thanksgiving From Hell in the Teaser for Ike Barinholtz’s Contentious Comedy ‘The Oath’

We’ve all been there. Thanksgiving surrounded by immediate family and then...

Ahockalypse
Zombies Run Amok on the Ice in ‘Ahockalypse’

There aren’t many sports as violent as hockey. It’s a game...

Event News Event Reviews
Transformers: The Movie Theatrical Debut
32 Years Ago Today, Was The Transformers: The Movie Theatrical Debut

On this day, 32 years ago, the world was graced with The...

Blizzard SDCC 2018
Blizzard SDCC 2018 – Blizzard Entertainment Brings Massive Lineup to SDCC

Blizzard in SDCC 2018 – Blizzard Entertainment brings Overwatch, StarCraft, and...

Nuclear Blast SDCC 2018
Nuclear Blast SDCC 2018 – Nuclear Blast Teams Up with JSR and Stern Pinball

Nuclear Blast SDCC 2018 – Nuclear Blast Teams Up with JSR...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Exclusive Track Premiere from Madden NFL 19!

(July 26, 2018 – Los Angeles, CA) – Lakeshore Records today...

Star Ocean Anamnesis
8.0/10
The Most Intuitively Fun Gameplay of Any Mobile RPG – Star Ocean Anamnesis Review

Star Ocean Anamnesis is hands down the most fun and intuitive gameplay...

Ghostbusters World
Strap On Your Jumpsuits and Proton Packs – Ghostbusters World First Look

Ghostbusters World First Look at SDCC2018 – When someone asks you if...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Five Questions for Gary Morgenstein About ‘A Mound Over Hell’

Gary Morgenstein is a journalist, public relations expert and author with...

Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel
Dark Horse Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel Revealed

Dark Horse reveals new original Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic...

black torch
Black Torch – New Supernatural, Action Manga from Viz Media

VIZ Media releases a new, supernatural story with the release of...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Chuck Billy of Testament Talks About His Signature Vaporizer

Chuck Billy of Testament talks about, “The Chief” his signature vaporizer,...

anime pls
Anime Pls by Bioworld – Exclusive Interview

Bioworld Merchandising is a pop culture product expert. The company is considered...

heaven's feel
Fate/stay night [Heaven’s Feel] THE MOVIE I. presage flower Blu-ray Release

TLDR Aniplex of America announced that box office hit, Fate/stay night ...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
WOW Announces New TV Taping Schedule

Women of Wrestling (WOW) will be hosting two nights of TV...

Catching up with Collegiate Take Down King Joe Gonzales at OCG

What can be said about Joe Gonzales? Well, everything really. Gonzales...

NJPW G1 Special from San Francisco Results

New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) the King of Sports returns to...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics #3

The defense against the dark arts temps start rolling in...

Fantoy Comics by Michael Colbert

Another slice of daily Hogwarts life as told with Funko Pops...

Fantoy Comics by Michael Colbert

A new comic strip focusing on the regular old days at...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming. Related

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack
Blake Neely Behind-the-Scenes Recording of Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack

Check out this exclusive Behind-The-Scenes video with Blake Neely as he...

Rising Country Music Artist Kaylin Roberson Talks About her work with St. Jude

Kaylin Roberson is a singer, songwriter and pianist from Raleigh, North...

MTV Unveils Performers for ‘TRL Live’ on October 3rd at 3 p.m. E.T.

NEW YORK, NY (September 26, 2017) – MTV today announced that...

%d bloggers like this: