The Out-Laws

Your enjoyment of The Out-Laws will depend on how much you like (or can tolerate) Adam Devine.  The former Workaholics up-and-comer, who has gradually been carving out a career as a leading man, is centre stage in Happy Madison’s action-comedy.  As someone who has always been entertained by Devine’s roles (the Pitch Perfect franchise, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, When We First Met, Game Over, Man!, Isn’t It Romantic), Adam Devine’s goofy performance in The Out-Laws kept me giggling despite knowing full well that he’s going to bother some viewers.  After all, he shrieks, sings, and stammers through this outrageous material.

Devine plays peppy bank manager Owen, who takes great pride in his job and anticipates his upcoming marriage to the love of his life, Parker (Nina Dobrev).  He’s also ecstatic to learn that the elusive in-laws he’s never met have decided to attend the wedding.  Time is not wasted to move the plot along once Parker’s parents arrive.  Billy and Lilly (Pierce Brosnan, Ellen Barkin), who have “suspicion” written all over them, immediately take an interest in Owen’s career.  An odd event in retrospect for Owen after his bank is robbed the following day. 

The robbery occurs too early into the movie, rushing through first impressions of Parker’s sketchy parents.  Brosnan and Barkin have a mischievous charm to their pairing that the film only scrapes the surface on.  More focus is placed on their dangerous relationship with fellow criminal Rehan (Poorna Jagannathan), a crook the duo wronged in the past.  The dynamic relies on too many random, inappropriate comments and, other than her good looks, Rehan isn’t a memorable character.  An amusing yet brief appearance by The Wrong Missy’s Lauren Lapkus as Owen’s banking rival Phoebe King is a more intimidating threat than Rehan.

Much like Jagannathan’s thankless character, there’s nothing special about The Out-Laws’ story.  It’s either too simple and convenient for both the heroes and villains, or too messy as it dabbles between the action and comedy genres.  But, it’s hard to lob criticism towards a narrative that’s, quite obviously, just a clothesline for Devine to hang sight gags on.  The supporting cast, who are all good but underused, also seem to understand to step out of the way for the lead to let loose.  This approach to comedy doesn’t always work (Kevin Hart: Let Me ExplainHe’s Way More Famous Than You), but it’s a gamble that worked for me.  However, considering the film’s talent, The Out-Laws really should’ve been more of an ensemble project.

As a vehicle for Adam Devine, The Out-Laws is still solid.  It isn’t one of the more memorable comedies of the year, and it’s not even the best movie about in-laws that came out this year (You People).  But, if the reader and I share the same sense of humour, the movie provides consistent laughs.


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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