‘The Out-Laws’: Dopey heist comedy robs great comic actors of their powers

Adam DeVine, Ellen Barkin and Pierce Brosnan among the talented cast stuck doing formulaic humor.

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Owen (Adam DeVine, seated) suspects the masked thieves who robbed his bank were Billy (Pierce Brosnan, left) and Lilly (Ellen Barkin), the parents of his fiancee, Parker (Nina Dobrev), in “The Out-Laws.”


It’s kind of sad, really.

Not what I’d usually write to describe a slapstick comedy action adventure. But watching “The Out-Laws,” I was truly bummed out that this Netflix original would turn out to be so lazy, formulaic, loud and unfunny, given that director Tyler Spindel’s previous effort was the hilarious and underrated black comedy gem “The Wrong Missy,” and the greatly talented and likable cast here includes Adam DeVine, Nina Dobrev, Michael Rooker, Lil Rel Howery, Lauren Lapkus, Poorna Jagannathan, Ellen Barkin, Pierce Brosnan, Julie Hagerty and Richard Kind, I mean come on! You assemble such an eclectic and intriguing group, and then they’re stuck in a broad and dopey rom-com sit-com with a Laugh Producing Batting Average in the low .200s. Swing and a miss.

Hollywood has created an entire genre out of stories about meeting the prospective in-laws, from domestic comedies such as “Meet the Parents” and “Monster-in-Law” and “The Family Stone,” to horror films such as “Ready or Not” and “Get Out,” to crime capers such as “The In-Laws” (twice) and “Mickey Blue Eyes.” And now there’s “The Out-Laws,” in which Adam DeVine’s squishy, corny and uptight local bank manager, Owen, is engaged to the lovely and warm but seemingly dimwitted yoga instructor Parker (Nina Dobrev), whose globe-trotting, off-the-grid, mysteriously vague parents Billy and Lilly McDermott (Pierce Brosnan and Ellen Barkin) show up just before the notorious “Ghost Bandits” rob Owen’s bank. Wait a minute: Could it be that Billy’s soon-to-be-in-laws are the Ghost Bandits, the most infamous bank robbers in history? That would be crazy!

‘The Out-Laws’


Netflix presents a film directed by Tyler Spindel and written by Evan Turner and Ben Zazove. Running time: 95 minutes. Rated R (for language throughout, violence, sexual material and brief drug use). Available Friday on Netflix.

Let the bank-robbing hijinks begin. And continue. And drag on, to the point where the action becomes so cartoonish, they could have switched to animation halfway through.

As much as I’ve enjoyed Adam DeVine’s work, he’s played variations on this same guy for nearly two decades now (he’s 39) and the man-child act is getting tiresome. Dobrev’s Molly is utterly clueless (she never questioned what her parents were doing all these years?), while comedic treasures Richard Kind and Julie Hagerty as Owen’s parents strive mightily to produce laughs even as they’re saddled with characters who are apparently insane. Michael Rooker looks embarrassed to be playing an FBI agent, Poorna Jagannathan overplays the villainous role and the fantastic Lil Rel Howery and Lauren Lapkus have barely enough screen time to merit a trip to the makeup chair before filming.

This is the kind of movie that resorts to Barkin’s Lilly and Brosnan’s Billy engaging in some not-so-snappy banter about James Bond, because Brosnan played James Bond, ha ha nah. The kind of movie where they thought it would be funny to stage an elaborate, crash-filled, destructive chase scene through … a cemetery. In other scenes, windows are shattered and shots are fired and a dye pack explodes and shots of booze are consumed and stunt-persons fly around while wisecracking abounds, as no one in this story seems to take any of this particularly seriously, even when lives and relationships and careers are at stake

“The Out-Laws” is harmless enough escapism, but it’s the kind of at-home viewing experience where you could leave the room for five minutes and come back and say, “Did I miss anything?” and the answer would invariably be: Not really.

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