American Animals – Watchable

Rating (3 out of 5)

Summary: A watchable film (another iTunes dollar rental). The story was interesting enough, keeping your attention for the full 2 hours and see what invariably happened to the well-off boys. Slow pace and strange balance of film and documentary negatively affect American Animals.

Plot: 4 young men attending college in Kentucky in 2003 attempt theft of priceless books from Transylvania University. The film reenacts the heist in a documentary style.

What I Liked:  “American Animals” cuts to commentary from the actual thieves throughout the movie, and the much older men recount the specific events in alignment with the sequence on screen. There were marked differences in how individuals recalled the same event. By interjecting these separate interviews, the director added a clever bit of levity to the film and offered a unique approach to a biopic.

I have personally observed the well off young male malaise in recent years and the movie may have resonated with me a little more than it might for others. The grown-up men only regret the violence of their heist act and being caught, and not the theft itself. See Vanity Fair’s article on the heist, after you watch the movie.

I enjoyed the sequence where the two main conspirators idyllically imagine how the heist would transpire as they currently had planned. The dream sequence plays out on screen to “Little Less Conversation” Elvis song from the “Ocean’s 11” soundtrack playing. Using the “Ocean’s 11” theme emphasized how the criminals dreamt of a smooth flawless caper like a movie.

What I Didn’t Like: The movie suffers from a slow pace and inconsistent tone. The tone switches between comedy, thriller, documentary, and drama. After I had watched the film, it seemed more like one of the crime shows you find on TruTV or other channels.