Masterminds (2016)

Before saying anything else, it is important to impart that there are two parts in Masterminds that involve nauseating imagery that may be upsetting to watch. If that’s a deal breaker, you may want to avoid this film regardless of its other merits. That said, Masterminds is a light hearted summer comedy that is emblematic of the humor of Zach Galifianakis, defined by awkward characters in uncomfortable moments of mundanity found even in the most extreme of situations.

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Humor can be pretty subjective, and this is very likely to be a hit or miss for a lot of people. If you’re not already familiar with the work of Zach Galifianakis, there’s a fair sample on YouTube, and you should definitely check out Between Two Ferns. It can be reasonably assumed, though, that if an uncomfortable looking bearded man in a long blond wig with cat eyes doesn’t entertain you, this movie may not be for you. While not for everyone, many will find a rich well of humor here.

The right audience can and will be rewarded with exactly what you would expect from the hairy weird guy in The Hangover getting an entire movie. Those fans will take away from Masterminds a piece that lands somewhere between a fun end of summer comedy and a comedy classic. For me, the standout performance was from Kate McKinnon, who delivered a deadpan performance that had me laughing just about every single time she was on the screen. The movie could have used a lot more of her character, as I looked forward to every time she might be on screen.

While Kate McKinnon stood out from the crowd, that was a reasonably high bar, as just about everyone worked well together. While Galifianakis is the defining character of the piece, the full cast works to deliver something that feels true to the comic stylings of the lead.

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As mentioned above, the movie really failed for me when it dipped its toe in the shock genre once or twice with images I could honestly live without having in my head. I’m always disappointed when a movie that I otherwise really enjoy is undermined by elements that are not at all essential to the plot and detract a great deal from my enjoyment. While other viewers may differ from me on this, I generally do not enjoy attempts to gross me out.

The pacing is even and restrained on the whole, though the movie drags a little bit in the middle when the jokes feel a little repetitive when we’re waiting for the climax. When we approach the close of the film, Masterminds rushes into the ending without completely resolving the need to be there.

On the whole, Masterminds is exactly what it wants to be, which is an average comedy that will hit hardest for those who enjoy a very particular kind of awkward humor. Check out Between Two Ferns, and if you find yourself giggling, then Masterminds is probably a must see for you.

Final Verdict:Fans of Galifianakis will find a lot to love, others will likely be bored and a little grossed out.