Recently, I had a discussion with others about the best films of 2017 up to this point, where we all noticed that many of the best films fell into same genres – Action, Children, and a little bit of horror or science fiction. Basically every noteworthy movie of the year falls into one of those categories, whether that be “Wonder Woman,” “Dunkirk,” “The Lego Batman Movie” or “War for the Planet of the Apes.” But if that’s the best 2017 has to offer, then that would be a little bit sad, considering one major genre has been left out – comedy.
Let’s face it, 2017 has been a poor year for comedies. Studios were banking on films like “Baywatch,” “Girls Trip” and “Rough Night” but none of them produced the box office or critical responses that studio executives were hoping for. In fact, “Baywatch” was such a critical and box office disaster that the director outright blamed Rotten Tomatoes for ruining his good movie, when in reality it did terrible all around because it was a bad and pointless movie. This does show that either studios are continually making bad comedies that people don’t want to see or that audiences just aren’t as interested in comedies anymore.
I lean more towards the former, considering that we have had two indie comedy hits of 2017, “The Big Sick” and “Logan Lucky.” Now I haven’t seen “The Big Sick,” so I won’t comment on that movie. But I will take this opportunity to say how refreshing “Logan Lucky” felt in a year full of action movies. The film wasn’t always laugh-out-loud funny, but every moment of this movie is filled with strange over-the-top characters being their true selves, making the country bumpkin attitude feel honest.
The film follows Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) after he is let go from his latest job after his superiors see him limping around. Jimmy is in desperate need of money though, as well as his one-handed brother Clyde (Adam Driver), so the two begin to work out the details to a heist that would make both of them filthy-stinking rich. While Jimmy was at his most recent job at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, he found the pipes underneath the stadium that transport all the money into their vault. Their plan is to break in, blow open a hole in the piping system and suck all the money out of the vault while no one is looking. The two hire on several people for their “expertise,” including a trio of brothers, two of them being dumb-witted “tech experts” and the other being the incarcerated explosives expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig).
“Logan Lucky” plays out like a hillbilly version of “Ocean’s Eleven,” where calm and careful planning is instead replaced with half-thought out plans and our heroes flying by the seams of their pants. Director Steven Soderbergh, who also directed “Ocean’s Eleven,” perfectly captures the atmosphere of West Virginia while filling his world with characters who genuinely surprise you with their intelligence. I fell that is where most of the comedy comes from, how easily the film deceives you into thinking these guys could never get their plan off the ground, only to find out how competent and strategic they can be.
The best part of the movie are the trio of brothers, with Daniel Craig’s Joe Bang being the standout. Aside from Craig’s hilarious high-pitched southern accent, he is someone who is not afraid to express his emotions no matter how insulting or stupid they sound. His brothers are a riot, they are slow yet think they know everything about the world. One of them claims to be a computer expert, yet I don’t think we ever see him on a computer, but at least he knows “all the Twitters.”
Also, after watching this film, I’m convinced that Adam Driver is the chameleon of actors, able to blend into any back story or role you send his way without ever coming across as insincere or fake. His southern drawl and mannerisms as Clyde Logan add another dimension to his character and the bar he owns, while amplifying the West Virginian community.
Overall, “Logan Lucky” is funny without removing the intelligence of its characters. Most of these people might be bumbling or full of themselves, but their plan is intriguing and constantly evolving, so the film will always keep you on your toes. The tension is consistent and surprisingly effective for a comedy. It was nice to finally see a comedy that didn’t dumb itself down just for the sake of a joke and remained honest to its roots all the way through.
Final Grade: B+