The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum

PUPS (2000) ** ½

A teenager (Cameron Van Hoy) and his girlfriend (Mischa Barton) find a gun in his mother’s closet and on their way to school, decide to rob a bank. They take hostages, issue threats, and soon, the FBI and their lead negotiator (Burt Reynolds) try and put a lid on the situation. The kids are mostly making it up as they go along; taking their cues from old movies they’ve seen on TV. When they realize they’ll practically get anything they want, the kids demand to be put on MTV and soon enough, Kurt Loder (playing himself) shows up to interview them.

Pups is like a teenage Dog Day Afternoon. Since the teens in question are closer to twelve than twenty, it makes the hostage scenes rather unpredictable. They’re more like children playing cops and robbers than real thieves. That makes the potential for tragedy even greater, but offers the movie a surprising amount of levity and charm too.

The film was written and directed by a guy named “Ash”, AKA: Ash Baron-Cohen, cousin of Sacha. His screenplay doesn’t offer any insights on our nation’s youth, but he doesn’t really need to. He just presents an oddball scenario and lets it loose.

I will say that Ash probably plays his cards too soon. When it comes time for the final negotiation, the movie is already running on fumes. The finale, while inevitable, doesn’t quite pack the intended punch unfortunately.

Still, it almost works. The film is filled with some memorable moments and the interaction between the kids and the hostages is often funny. I liked the wheelchair-bound vet character. While the other hostages try to remain calm, he wheels himself around the bank and goads the kids into taking full advantage of the situation. This is also the only bank heist movie I can think of in which the robbery is stalled when one of the robbers get their first period.

Burt is quite good as the agent in charge of the situation. He gets a few laughs as he struggles to maintain his cool while putting up with the robbers’ childish demands. Loder is also pretty funny playing a dickish exaggerated version of himself. The movie belongs to Van Hoy though. I can’t say you’re rooting for his repugnant character or anything, but he definitely has charisma and holds your attention throughout.

AKA: Fucked Up.

For more Burt Reynolds reviews, check out my latest book, Revenge of the Video Vacuum, for an entire chapter devoted to Burt’s films:

Tags: burt reynolds, comedy, p

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