July 7, 2023 / Netflix
Starring: Adam Devine, Nina Dobrev, Pierce Brosnan, Ellen Barkin, Poorna Jagannathan, Michael Rooker, Lauren Lapkus, Richard Kind, Julie Hagerty, Lil Rel Howery
Directed By: Tyler Spindel
When the bank Owen (Adam Devine) manages gets robbed just days before his wedding, all the evidence points in one incredibly awkward direction: his future in-laws (Pierce Brosnan, Ellen Barkin).
Written By Darren
Rating 2 out of 5
The Out-Laws has its moments, but sadly they are few and far between, ultimately wasting its potential and the cast's talents for derivative and forced comedic moments that make this short film feel much longer than it actually is.
There is no denying that Netflix produces a significant amount of original content, allowing writers and filmmakers to bring their visions to fruition that would not find life in the big studio system. It is easy to commend them for their efforts, but sadly lots of their films are incredibly clunky and fail to provide true entertainment value, and sadly The Out-Laws is the latest Netflix film to suffer this fate. While the cast of Pierce Brosnan, Adam Devine, Nina Dobrev and Ellen Barkin will have casual viewers clicking play when this film appears in the new release section of Netflix, there is little reward to this formulaic story that fails to break free from its tightly scripted outline and provide honest moments of comedy and emotion that this film needed to succeed.
Owen is about to marry Parker, the woman of his dreams. While they both assumed Parker’s parents would not be attending, there is a last minute change in plans that sees her parents come to town for the wedding. But when Owen’s bank is robbed at work by masked individuals who know personal information about Owen that only family would know, he begins to suspect that his future parents-in-law may just be notorious bank robbers and did not just come to town for their daughter’s wedding.
There is no surprise where this story is going, it's fairly obvious within five minutes exactly how this film is going to play out. We have Devine being his goofy self, a stiff and cold Brosnan and Barkin as the intimidating and potentially dangerous in-laws, and Dobrev as the unaware and charming love interest. The majority of the jokes are forced and confined by the script, causing the comedy to feel unnatural. At the centre of the story, there are moments of heart that manage to break through the flat screenplay, showing the potential that this story could have had if it was not so rigidly structured. Same with the comedy moments as there is the odd gag that lands perfectly that will have you laughing and getting your hopes up that the film could turn around, largely thanks to the wonderful pairing of Julie Hagerty and Richard Kind as Devine’s old fashioned parents, right before the next ten jokes all misfire in a row. The entire film is an exercise of hoping that it will get better, even though you know that it is not going to get any better fairly early on in it.
Films like The Out-Laws can succeed with a cast firing on all cylinders who make up for the screenplay’s shortcomings, but sadly this cast does not have that magic spark to save the film. Devine is his usual goofy self, which will work for fans of his, but won’t do anything for those who are unfamiliar with his comedic styles. Brosnan and Barkin do a great job at playing the mysterious parents, turning on the charm when necessary, though they never go all the way and become the larger than life personalities that is needed of them to make the film interesting. Dobrev is sadly sidelined for the majority of the film, not given the chance to develop any convincing romantic chemistry with Devine nor provided with the comedic moments to play the clueless daughter who has no clue her parents are bank robbers required to sell the story. As I previously mentioned, it is Hagerty and Kind who are the scene stealers of the film. They both possess an unique comedic energy that is odd yet charming, and they perfectly complement each other throughout the film. Whether it be Hagerty throwing shade at Dobrev’s character for being a yoga instructor, or the hilarious brunch scene where the two sets of parents meet, it's almost guaranteed that if Hagerty and Kind are on screen that you will be laughing!
Sadly, but not all that surprising, The Out-Laws is your average Netflix film that features big names but has no substance to create an enjoyable watch. While Julie Hagerty and Richard Kind are excellent and deliver some hilarious moments, the screenplay fails to capture the heart or comedic energy that is required to give the cast exciting material to work with, ensuring that The Out-Laws never takes off and remains a dull watch.