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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 39.06%
Average: 4.69%
Pretty Bad: 1.56%
Total Crap: 0%

8 reviews, 16 user ratings

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Lookout, The
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by Lybarger

"At last, a heist movie that won’t leave you feeling robbed."
4 stars

Thanks to an able cast and freshman director Scott Frank’s expert storytelling, “The Lookout” is one of those rare thrillers that offers believable jolts and never talks down to its audience.

With his script’s tight storyline, sharp dialogue and well-drawn characters, Frank proves that he can create more thrills with an actor’s guilty expression than most filmmakers can accomplish with a dozen vehicle explosions.

Proving that there’s intelligent life after TV’s “3rd Rock from the Sun,” Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Chris Pratt, a young man whose best years are probably long past him. Once a star high school athlete on his way to the pros, Chris now finds the path to his front door too arduous on some days.

After a joy ride has left him with a faulty memory and weak cognitive skills, peers who used to look up to him now gaze on him with pity. Instead of competing for a Stanley Cup, Chris is now mopping floors at a small Kansas bank and blurting out the first thing that comes to his mind, no matter how vulgar (he tells women he swoons over exactly what he’d like to do with them).

The only person who takes him seriously is his blind, cynical roommate Lewis (Jeff Daniels), who doesn’t seem like much of a mentor.

Chris finally thinks he’s found a friend in a scruffy looking fellow named Gary (Matthew Goode, “Match Point”). The fellow says that he wishes he could have been Chris and is even nice enough to introduce Chris to his first girlfriend in years, a retired stripper named “Luvlee” (Isla Fischer, “The Wedding Crashers”).

As viewers can quickly figure out, Gary and Luvlee are using Chris so they can rob the bank where he works. One of the more refreshing aspects of “The Lookout” is watching Chris slowly learning that he’s about to get snookered.

Thanks to Gordon-Levitt’s subtle but affecting performance, it’s easy to care if Chris emerges from his situation in one piece. Instead of going overboard with physical ticks or mugging, Levitt projects a sense of frustration and anger over his fate. Gordon-Levitt and Frank also wisely make sure that viewers know that Chris’ disabilities haven’t made him stupid or a person to be pitied.

It’s not surprising that Frank is able to pull off such a delicate balancing act because his work as a screenwriter has been consistently impressive. For example, with his screenplays for the Elmore Leonard novels Get Shorty and Out of Sight, Frank managed to make accessibly entertaining movies out of Leonard’s serpentine plotlines and quirky characters.

As a director, he takes his time setting up the situation and introducing the characters. As a result, when the film kicks into gear late in the second act, it’s easier to feel involved.

The support cast certainly helps. Daniels frequently steals the show as the well-meaning but cynical Lewis. Goode and Fischer deserve extra praise for convincingly shedding their local accents. He’s from England; and she’s from Australia.

As a native of eastern Kansas, I’ve got a few quibbles with how Frank has tried to make Manitoba pass for Kansas City (some of us do play hockey here, but basketball and football are much more popular). Nonetheless, I do have to praise him for getting the geographical named right and at least trying to learn about the area before he started shooting.

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originally posted: 04/04/07 13:28:09
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/22/17 morris campbell good not great 4 stars
11/01/08 Shaun Wallner Well made. 5 stars
8/12/08 R.W. Welch Slow in spots with a too tidy ending; still worth a look. 4 stars
7/30/08 mr.mike Good , and the actors are fine , but movie could have been more compelling 4 stars
11/18/07 Brian Mckay Well written thriller with shades of Memento. Solid performances all around. 4 stars
10/24/07 Fred A great film very similar to fargo 4 stars
10/05/07 JT Lindroos Fine balance of modern and classic heist-noir. 4 stars
9/14/07 Monday Morning Very nice - 4 stars
8/19/07 fools♫gold It's DAMN ok. 100% 5 stars
7/03/07 William Goss Straight-forward crime drama is admirably modest, but curiously insubstantial. 3 stars
5/01/07 Charles Utter I went for the writing, but received even more rewards. Three act perfection. 5 stars
4/11/07 Adam Bad, bad writing. Lots of loose ends and bad characters: namely Bone and Deputy Donut. 2 stars
4/09/07 Mimi I LOVED "The Lookout". I'm trying to find out who played "Mr. Bones" though 5 stars
4/05/07 Ole Man Bourbon It's OK. Daniels and the other supporting guy are the highlights. 3 stars
4/04/07 Marty cast hit or miss, slow starter, sloppy writing lacking clarity. get over this movie 3 stars
4/03/07 Denise I saw this movie last night and it has been on my mind ever since. 5 stars
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  30-Mar-2007 (R)
  DVD: 14-Aug-2007

  02-Nov-2007 (15)


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