Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

There is no reason why this should be such an unmitigated disaster. The plot has promise. The actors have form. The location is small town deserty. The blame must lie with director Gavin Grazier and writer Joe Wein.

It is one of those ensemble pictures that start at the end and flashback to explain how it ended up where it did. There is no central character, although, for reasons that are never explained, Jason "Woods" Valley (Woody Harrelson) provides the occasional narrative voice-over.

He is a teller at the local bank, as is Sheila (Alicia Silverstone), who is having a fling with the manager (Joshua Leonard), and Stu (Paulo Costanzo), who fantasises about going to Vegas with stolen money, doubling it on one throw of the dice, returning the stash, as if nothing had happened, and being a quarter of a million bucks richer.

The point - too sharp a concept for such a shapeless film - of what must be called a comedy heist is that all these people plan to rob the bank on the same weekend and none of them know of the others' intentions. Recipe for a funny, chaotic, cash-me-if-you-can movie? You might think so, but something has gone wrong with the ingredients.

There are too many sub-plots that waste time and too many characters, the most interesting being Shmally (the wonderful Rachael Leigh Cook), who has nothing to do with the robberies and appears to be the girlfriend of an idiot called Doleman (Marcus Thomas), who is so thick he would lose an argument with a llama. The least credible (and bearable) is the resident millionaire Mr Merchant (John Cleese, continuing to destroy his reputation), who rushes about in a silk dressing gown, shooting at people.

The mood and tone of the film is all over the place. "Woods" is timid at work, but hippy dippy at home, where he lives with a duck and has lizards as pets. Sheila seems vapid altogether. Stu is as straight as a pencil and has a dangerously off-kilter best friend (David Krumholtz), who keeps thinking up zany moneymaking schemes, such as renting babies to single guys. Shmally has daydreams in which she becomes a superheroine and kills the men who annoy her with long swords. Mr Merchant shouts at everything, even his yappy, snappy, hyper aggressive pooch.

If the cast had been culled and Doug Liman (Swingers, Go) brought in to direct and a script doc, with an acerbic sense of humour, hired to perform major surgery, Scorched might have worked. As it is, a car wreck has more style.

Reviewed on: 09 Dec 2005
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Scorched packshot
Three employees in a small Nevada bank have plans to rob it on the same weekend.
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Director: Gavin Grazer

Writer: Joe Wein

Starring: Alicia Silverstone, Rachael Leigh Cook, Woody Harrelson, John Cleese, Paulo Costanzo, David Krumholtz, Joshua Leonard, Ivan Sergei, Marcus Thomas, Jeffrey Tambor

Year: 2003

Runtime: 89 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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