Kidnapper: "That's not going to do it. We want $240 thousand."
"Stealing Sinatra" is a quiet little comedy about a bunch of dimwits trying to pull off a heist that's way out of their league. As straightforward entertainment, it's interesting & funny enough to keep you amused from start to finish. But for my money, I enjoyed it on a deeper level that tells the story of America's impending loss of innocence in the mid 60s following the single greatest wake up slap of the 20th century: the public assassination of President JFK. (And soon after, the public assassination of his accused assassin.)
But that would come later. This movie is a clever snapshot of American life on the verge of a serious reality check. There are no bullet-blazing gun battles, no violent beatings and splashes of blood across the screen, no dark gritty angst and political subversion. The main criminal mastermind doesn't even curse (aside from hissing "oh... sugar!" when things go afoul). By today's standards, this would be the most boring caper ever. But that's precisely what makes it so interesting.
David Arquette is perfect as "Barry", the criminal mastermind who looks like he'd be more natural selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. William H. Macy is also perfectly cast as "Mr. Irwin" the confused, fatherly voice of reason, alternately dishing out Confucian wisdom and coaching Barry on how to be a better criminal. The supporting characters, Ryan Browning as criminal #3 "Joe", Thomas Ian Nicholas as the young deer-in-the- headlights kidnappee "Sinatra Jr." and of course a very convincing James Russo as Old Blue Eyes himself, make this a real treat to watch.
Like I said, don't expect a crime caper thrill ride of any sort. While there are some good suspenseful moments, the real attraction of this film is in its subtle, humorous portrayal of American innocence, even in the midst of a felony. A unique cross between "Suicide Kings" and "The Brady Bunch", this is a very human story that could practically serve as a cultural document... if anyone cared. As the opening titles go: "In 1963, an event happened that rocked the nation. This is not that event. But it really did happen."
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