Not Mad Enough

Seann William Scott in Stark Raving Mad (2002)

Ben McGewan (Seann William Scott - Evolution) owes Gregory (Lou Diamond Phillips - Courage Under Fire), a Chinese Mafia boss, a large sum of money and in order to clear his debt has agreed to steal an ancient statue from a bank vault. Months of careful planning have gone into the heist with the plan is to use a rave as cover for the bank job but despite careful planning nothing goes right.

To put it simply whether you enjoy "Stark Raving Mad" or not will depend on what other movies you think of whilst watching. For me I found myself thinking of the British wave of cinema from the late nineties and early naughties especially "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels". It has that heavily edited style where the action moves quickly before slamming a cut right in the middle or a freeze frame for Ben to suddenly talk directly to the camera. This is especially the case when you consider we have a crime/ heist movie where things do not go to plan. But despite attempting to recreate that style it doesn't manage to deliver that same punch.

Lou Diamond Phillips in Stark Raving Mad (2002)

Part of the issue is that "Stark Raving Mad" tries to smuggle in moments of humour from a woman lifting her skirt to show her natural hair colour to transvestites at the rave. None of which really works, it again lacks that punch to make you laugh at the absurdity of it all. It's not that jokes are lame, it certainly resists the temptation to do simple comedy but the attempts at quirky and dark comedy rarely pay off.

But then there is the acting and to be fair Seann William Scott accounts for himself surprisingly well, shredding the image of Stifler to deliver something close to being cool. Yes Scott's "Alfie" like moments as he talks direct to the camera are not brilliant but he is in control of the character rather than being controlled by it. Most of the rest of the cast end up being remarkably anonymous even Adam Arkin who behind a goofy outfit is not immediately recognizable. But the scene stealer is Lou Diamond Phillips whose charming yet cruel performance as Gregory is perfect and what the rest of the cast needed to attain to.

What this all boils down to is that if you haven't watched the British crime comedies from the turn of the century "Stark Raving Mad" will probably be more entertaining than if you have as for those like me who have it ends up a weak but not unwatchable imitation.

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