In this crime drama, four bright and well-off college students in Kentucky plot to steal some rare books from their university's Special Collections Library in a misguided quest for personal glory. Based on the story, the film includes interviews with the foursome who attempted the bizarre heist. Starring Barry Keoghan, Evan Peters, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson and Ann Dowd.
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True story this, though the quartet of perpetrators of the most audacious literary crime have trouble keeping their story straight. That's part of the fun in recreating a 2004 Kentucky teenage heist: having the now grown ups involved, recount the events, separated by distance from each other, and time from the deed.
"American Animals" seems too goofy for fact, but as usual, fiction loses out in the strange category. Spencer, Warren, Eric and Chas, (yes Chas), are privileged white boys getting their feet wet at University, itching for the action adult life has promised, which of course, is lacking.
Solution: robbery! Seems the campus library has a twelve million dollar book, and the only obstacle is an elderly librarian. Seeing their fair share of heist movies, the greedy group hatch an elaborate plan to snatch a big bird book from the poorly guarded nest. Convoluted schematics are drawn up. Maquettes are constructed. Ridiculous disguises are made. This is the thrill of their lives, and makes for irresistible film.
Evan Peters as the excitable and sketchy Warren, owns his delicious role, especially when steering the reluctant dreamer Spencer (Barry Keoghan) to the point of no return. Even better are their real counterparts, as they contemplate on the events, and each other, fourteens years on. It's an ingenious bit of movie magic, that could not have been scripted better.
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