Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Movie Review: "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (1988)

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Movie"Dirty Rotten Scoundrels"
Director: Frank Oz
Year: 1988
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

A nickel and dime con-man named Freddy Benson (Steve Martin) is taken under the wing of high class con-artist Lawrence Jamieson (Michael Caine), who gets big money from high dollar marks. When Freddy thinks he's learned everything there is to know, he makes a "loser leaves town" bet on who can be the first to con 50k from 'American Soap Queen' Janet Colgate (Glenne Headly).

"Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" is a con-artist comedy directed by Frank Oz, who is best known as the voice of Yoda and Miss Piggy, but is also known for directing films like "What About Bob" and "Little Shop of Horrors." It stars Steve Martin and Michael Caine as con-men Freddy Benson and Lawrence Jamieson. Freddy is a nickel and dimer who picks up a dinner here or 20 bucks there by peddling his shtick about his ailing grandmother. Lawrence deals solely in wealthy upper class marks, ones he convinces he is a prince trying to save his financially struggling country against the communists. Lawrence often pulls tens of thousands of dollars a job doing this conman routine. When Freddy learns what's possible in the world of scamming, he asks Lawrence to teach him. The two pull some cons together, but when Freddy starts to feel like he is the one doing all the work and getting none of the reward, he decides he's better off on his own. Lawrence would prefer Freddy leave town so he doesn't taint any possible marks. The two make a loser leaves town bet on who can get 50k first from a woman they believe to be a wealthy heiress and 'American Soap Queen' named Janet Colgate, played by Glenne Headly.

This film showcases Steve Martin and Michael Caine in top form. The two share great chemistry and a witty repartee together. Martin also adds a level of goofy physical comedy while Caine acts as straight-man to Martin's buffoonery. Their dynamic offers consistent laughs throughout the entire film. Glenne Headly also does an excellent job making you believe her innocent, gullible persona. Her heart seems bigger than her head, and as the audience, we almost feel bad they are trying to con her. Despite these men trying to steal $50k from this unsuspecting sweet woman, we still like these guys because they are just so damn charming. Some of the jokes might be a little too risque in the year where everything is offensive, but we can't help but laugh at Martin's antics and Caine's stodgy, stiff upper lip.

Despite what some may think, "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" has held up really well over the years and is definitely worth checking out for those who like witty comedies. Steve Martin and Michael Caine provide excellent banter as this pair of con men, and Glenne Headly holds her own with these two veteran actors. We only hope the inevitable remake will be able to capture the same charm, humor, and spirit of this original.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 88%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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