J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Other Venice ’16: The Head Thieves

Prison was good for Graham Castillo. When he lazed about all day, they called it “good behavior.” Now that he’s out, he is not so crazy about getting one of those “job” dealios. He has a capery plan instead, but we know what that means. Misadventures ensue in Mike Hermosa’s The Head Thieves (trailer here), which screens as the opening night film of the 2016 Other Venice Film Festival.

Castillo’s grouchy mother prefers his Filipino brothers Frankie and Duncan, even though the duo had been adopted, partly because the latter two were never in trouble with the law and partly because Graham is such a miserable jerk. However, Frankie and Duncan bizarrely idolize their older bro, so they readily agree to help cock-eyed scheme. One fateful night behind bars, Castillo overheard two fellow inmates discussing where they stashed the loot from a bank robbery. Of course digging it up from the almond orchard in question will require more work than any of the three idiots is used to.

Head is a generally amusing collection of gags strung together to approximate a caper narrative, but it features one of the funniest celebrity cameos since Bob Barker laid a beating on Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore. This time it is Daniel Baldwin (the cool Baldwin Brother), who brings the pain under his own name, when the elder Castillo man-child disrupts his book-signing. Hermosa pushes his luck with an uncredited Andy Dick appearance, because just being the rehab veteran is not funny in and of itself.

However, Dante Basco (who was so ferocious in Paradise Broken) makes a surprisingly endearing sad sack as Frankie Castillo (the one with the Mexican internet girlfriend). He has also some nice bantering chemistry with his real life brother Dion Basco (as Duncan, the even more naïve one), helping balance out the abrasiveness of Mickey Gooch Jr.’s Graham Castillo. Gooch clearly has a Will Ferrell thing going, except he can actually be funny at times.

Basically, The Head Thieves is a low stress, low impact film that should appeal to a demographic much like the Castillo Brothers that frequently patronizes comic book shops and debates pop culture minutiae. Amusing but certainly not essential, The Head Thieves screens tomorrow (10/7) on the opening night of this year’s Other Venice Film Festival.

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