Some would say that what I do is a “wannabe” writer. I write reviews of dvds & games and also write a weekly column. However, I’m sure there are many novelists and newspaper writers who consider me nothing more than an Internet geek with a keyboard. But the truth is we are something more. Many of us are just as good as the novelists out there and better than the liberal media. Criminal Ways was originally called the “Wannabes” because it was about a group of men who wanted to be a children’s entertainment group. But like myself, there is so much more to the story than meets the eye.
As a kid, Danny (played by Nice Giannopoulos) was a childhood performer in dancing and singing. He got a spot on a television talent show and is being coached by his mother, Sally (played by Chantal Contouri). However, the show is the equivalent of the Gong Show and Danny’s act is gonged by guest star Jimmy King (played by Michael Carman). According to Jimmy, Danny simply lacks commitment.
Fast forward roughly 15-20 years and Danny is now in charge of a senior’s exercise group. His life hasn’t amounted to much, the most success he’s had has been an extra in a bit movie. But all that changes when Marcus Greene (played by Russell Dykstra) & Stewie (played by Tony Nikolakopoulos) walk into his office and offer him a job for $5,000.
The catch? Well Danny needs to teach four men how to sing and dance so that they can form a singing & dancing group to perform at a children’s birthday party at a nearby rich estate. At first, Danny turns them down but is later convinced by her mother to go ahead and take the offer. He walks down to where Marcus & Stewie are living. Here he is introduced to the other two members, Adrian (played by Costas Kilias) & Hammer (played by Ryan Johnson).
They explain the situation to Danny who starts evaluating the act. He is also introduced to Kirsty (played by Isla Fisher), Marcus’s little sister. However, she isn’t so little and is quite striking. Danny takes an immediate liking to her as he starts to instruct the boys on various techniques. But something doesn’t quite add up why 4 men would suddenly want to form a children’s singing group.
The real truth: they are criminals planning an elaborate heist. The idea is to pose as said children’s group and find their way into the estate to steal a very pricey necklace from Aurora Van Dyke’s (played by Lena Cruz) jewelry box. Furthermore, everybody from Marcus to Kirsty is in on it. Well except for Danny who is completely clueless to what is going on.
One of the members, Adrian doesn’t care for Danny very much and decides to take him out. He plans the sniper attack but fails in the process and injures himself. Danny takes him to the hospital not thinking that Adrian was trying to kill him. Adrian is out of the production and the only one who can replace him is Danny who was only supposed to teach the group.
They get to the party and the production is quite a bit larger than they expected. Famous acts such as Barney the Bear (played by Terry Gill) are there as well as Jimmy King who seems to have arranged the whole thing. The question is with Danny in the group, can the remaining members pull off the heist or will Danny find out and be pulled into the real act?
This movie is actually an Australian movie from 2003. It was named Wannabes and then renamed to something a whole lot more generic in Criminal Ways. Like six years later, a simple renaming of the movie and suddenly everything is peaches. It doesn’t work that way folks.
Furthermore, this is a creative marketing technique on the producers of the DVD to show off Isla Fisher who went on to do bigger projects such as Wedding Crashers. (She played the very naughty and crazy role of Gloria, Vince Vaughn’s love interest) She is the only shown on the cover of the dvd but yet her role is a supporting actress with very little screen time.
Okay, let’s ignore the obvious marketing tool. Is the movie any good? It’s alright; the acting isn’t bad; I particularly enjoyed Danny and Stewie who both grew considerably in the film. Nobody is really annoying in the movie either. Everybody plays their parts decently. The problem here is that nobody stands out. The movie has some pretty funny moments but they are few and far between.
One would also think that after watching the movie, where were they really going with the subplot of the love interest between Kirsty and Danny. For over 90% of the movie, Kirsty is merely tolerating Danny. Then somewhere around the end, she decides she has some affection for him. I saw more tension and passion between Hammer and Lita (played by Jemma Rivera Wilks).
Criminal Ways is an example of a very average film. It has some good actors and actresses but never really goes anywhere. It doesn’t help when the studio presses the movie on a screener disc where they feel the need to cut to a black n white picture with a warning every eight minutes either. That can’t be necessary and it is extremely distracting. Honestly, if you find this in the Wal-Mart bargain bin, it might be worth a quick purchase. But else, keep diving to find something else.