You have to give writer-director Jason Headley credit for courage (or is it foolhardiness?). To title your first feature “A Bad Idea Gone Wrong” takes chutzpah: you’re almost inviting brickbats from critics pointing out how apt a description it is. In the event, however, this little would-be heist comedy proves an engaging trifle—nothing more than an extended sitcom, but a pretty good one.
Doofus partners in would-be crime Leo (Will Rogers) and Marlon (Matt Jones) are contemplating their next supposed score when Leo has a suggestion—they should break into a house in a gated community where he knows there’s jewelry to be had—and the owners are currently away on vacation. Marlon, who’s always ready with a crazy plan to overcome any obstacle, comes up with a way to get them inside the gates without alerting the guards, but his assurance about overriding the security system proves unfounded, and the duo find themselves stranded in the house.
As if that weren’t enough of a fix, they discover a girl named Darcy (Eleanore Pienta) sleeping in the place. She claims to be a housesitter, and they have to tie her up while they try to figure out how to escape. To add to their predicament, Leo confesses that the occupants of the house aren’t exactly unknown to him. He chose the place in order to extract revenge against a person he feels has wronged him.
“A Bad Idea Gone Wrong” is not, frankly, as clever as it thinks it is. Most viewers will pick up on at least some of its twists long before they actually arrive, and the ending tries to tie up too many previous plot threads into a neat package—which nonetheless leaves some of them dangling rather noticeably. Even that prolonged close, however, has its virtues—including an amusing turn by Jonny Mars as a suspicious security guard.
And even when the turns in the mostly three-hander scenario are a mite disappointing, Headley manages some nicely over-the-top bits (like one in which our anti-heroes have to cobble together face masks out of plastic wrap) and offers plenty of cheeky dialogue, which is deftly delivered by his cast. Jones and Rogers work well together, making a comic team that, given their physical characteristics, resembles what Donal Logue and Luke Wilson might have done with the roles (and that’s intended as a compliment), while Pienta adds zest to a young woman who, like the guys, isn’t exactly a straight arrow.
The film, shot in Fort Worth by Nathan Smith, was clearly a low-budget affair, but it looks okay even on the big screen; the very limited number of locations (basically the interiors of a diner and the house, with a few exterior shots) probably helped things work on what must have been a short shooting schedule. The other craft contributions are fine; perhaps a special credit should have been given for plastic wrap.
“A Bad Idea Gone Wrong” winds up as an example of a dangerous title that turns out not to be at all prescient; the idea behind the script might not be terribly fresh, but the execution is more than capable. The result is an enjoyable little movie, one that should be a pretty effective calling card for Headley.