Maybe it’s the studios restraining from taking risks post-pandemic why pocket-sized, harmless popcorn comedies like The Out-Laws seem few and far between. So though you have only half a smile during the closing credits of The Out-Laws, you can’t help but think maybe such fun, even if forgettable, affairs are necessary more often than we think.
Adam Devine, in a caricaturish role that lends him many easy jokes, plays the clumsy, scaredy-cat doofus of a bank manager Owen Browning who is about to get married to his girlfriend Parker McDermott (Nina Dobrev). Owen’s parents – conservative and old-school Neil and Margie Browning (Richard Kind and Julie Hagerty) – have an issue with Parker’s profession as a yoga teacher, and with her parents, Billy and Lilly McDermott (Pierce Brosnan and Ellen Barkin), being away from Parker so much for mysterious reasons. Parker’s parents, meanwhile, are a groovy, hipster couple who try to make do with their daughter’s choice, and Owen’s charms get lost in them.
The Out-Laws (English)
Director: Tyler Spindel
Cast: Adam Devine, Nina Dobrev, Pierce Brosnan, Ellen Barkin, Michael Rooker, and Poorna Jagannathan among others
Runtime: 95 minutes
Storyline: Owen may not have figured out life but he is about to get married to the love of his life Parker. However, things take a turn when he suspects his in-laws to be the notorious Ghost Bandits
Things take quite a turn when Owen’s bank is robbed, and he has enough reasons to suspect Parker’s parents to be the robbers — like Billy’s strong and distinct cologne, Lilly’s signature fighting move, and him having only told them the unique password to the bank’s hi-tech vault. FBI officer Oldham (Michael Rooker) enters the scene to inform Owen that the robbers are the infamous Ghost Bandits, and Owen’s world spins into misery. Thrown into the mix is Rehan Zakaryan (Never Have I Ever’s Poorna Jagannathan in a short but fantastic role), a rich-brat criminal who has a beef with the Ghost Bandits.
The spread looks delicious, and there are enough scenarios that offer space for good comedy, like an awkward lunch between the families or an action sequence that involves Owen dressed as Shrek. At the same time, it squanders its overall appeal with scenes written for silly jokes and cheap thrills, like the one set at Rehan’s bungalow.
For all its promises to compensate for its predictability, The Out-Laws only leaves you with some good quips from characters having unhinged fun. It clutches so much on humour that you are asked to oversee the loopholes and the lack of any character development. Adding woes is the criminal underutilisation of actors like Dobrev and Rooker. A poorly-staged climax set at a bank is the final straw. The ending leaves too many doors ajar, and while it’s sometimes okay for mindless entertainment to not cross some t’s, you at least wish for its seemingly-human characters to have those natural human responses and reactions.
What The Out-Laws strives to do with its treatment is fine — and you naturally grow a likeness to a film that throws a joke every 30 seconds — but it’s quite a buzzkill to realise that despite boasting something as insane as a high-speed car chase in a cemetery, you might remember the film only for reminding you of the state of its sub-genre. Or that Pierce Brosnan has still got it at 70.
The Out-Laws is currently streaming on Netflix