The extraordinary and thrilling true story of four friends living an ordinary existence who brazenly attempt to execute one of the most audacious art heists in US history. But not everything is as it seems, and as the daring theft unfolds through each of their perspectives, each of them start to question whether their attempts to inject excitement and purpose into their lives is simply a misguided attempt at achieving the American Dream.

What We Thought:

American Animals is a solid crime drama. It is based on a true story that I wasn’t familiar with and it even has the real thieves in the film telling their side of the story.

Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, and Jared Abrahamson play four college students bored with their normal lives. Their university has a collection of rare books they think can make them millions. Keoghan is an art student who first sees the books and Peters is the mastermind of the theft. Jenner plays a rich kid brought in because he can drive. Abrahamson comes in because they needed a fourth.

Heist films can be a dime a dozen. You either need great action like Heat or The Town or you need a smart story like Oceans 11 or Logan Lucky to really hold my attention. This film leans towards the second because there really isn’t much action in the film. In fact, I only remember a gun being shown once in the entire film. These were college kids trying to achieve excellence, not master criminals knocking over banks.

I liked how the film shows different perspectives on what happened, who came up with it and what others believe. The four real men appear and give their side of the story. Most believe it was Peters’ character that pushed for everything and who might have lied about having a fence to sell the items. Even the real person doesn’t exactly say he was telling the truth. You get the families talking about their confusion on how these kids got involved. If you don’t know the story like me, it’s really interesting.

The movie also has a lot of style. It has a great soundtrack and camera movement. The vibe is fast at times and slow when going over the plan. The director is best known for documentaries so mixing in the real guys with the movie narrative flowed well and didn’t feel out of place. Sometimes jumping around can feel choppy, but this was smooth and brought something new to heist films.

American Animals has a good cast. It has style. It has substance. It has a great soundtrack. For a film that most people aren’t aware of, it’s really good. If you can find it, I recommend it.

Cast & Crew:

  • Evan Peters
  • Barry Keoghan
  • Blake Jenner
  • Jared Abrahamson
  • Writer/Director Bart Layton

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