by Scott Weinberg
Why Richard Linklater (Suburbia, Dazed and Confused) chose to take on a period drama about four boring bank robbers is beyond me. The Newton Boys offers not one new or fresh idea into this stale genre. There's no conflict, no real plot, and not one character who even remotely resembles a real person.These four brothers rob banks. There's the synopsis. If there were any subplots or anything interesting going on, I'd mention it. Matthew McConaughey is the oldest and dumbest, and he convinces his backwoods brothers to join him in a glamorous and guilt-free life of career criminals. His brothers each have one character trait, and the actors play their one note for the whole movie: Vincent Donofrio is the big dumb one, who we are introduced to halfway through the movie, which is strange because they never mention a fourth brother. Skeet Ulrich is the young, idealistic one who comes to love the life of blowing up safes and sleeping with whores. And then there's Ethan Hawke as the fun-loving drunk brother, complete with laughably bad mustache. Whoever told Ethan Hawke that he could play this role convincingly was a cruel, cruel liar.
"The Old West, only really bland and dull and silly."
So, they rob banks. Um, I think I covered that. What else? Well, there's the "love interest", played by Julianna Margulies, who doesn't get to say "12 ccs of sodium pentathol, stat" even once, so she's out of her element. She's pretty, so I guess she earned her paycheck here. Matt McConaughey, however. Sheesh. He is so bland and so drab as the supposedly charismatic leader of these idiots, I wanted to punch him in the neck. Hey, Matt? Your probation period is over. Get with the effort, pal.
Neither the cast nor any component of this movie ever once rises above the "made-for-TV" aura that surrounds it. The bank robbery scenes are completely devoid of any tension, as apparently all these crimes took place in an America that hadn't yet learned to employ policemen at night. The Newton Boys lurches from exploding safe to exploding safe with no regard for anything approaching dramatic conflict, humor or even a good sex scene. (Hey, it's a cheap ploy, but I'd rather watch a pointless sex scene than one more goddam exploding safe.)Shockingly banal, slow, drab, dull, lethargic, pointless, unexciting, clichéd, and just plain boring. If you can find something worth recommending in this movie, I have about 30 movies I can guarantee you've never seen.
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originally posted: 01/01/00 09:24:01