Review: Adam Sandler Produces a Lackluster, Overly Broad Heist Comedy in The Out-Laws

I don’t want to spoil anything up front about how I feel about the new Adam Sandler-produced Netflix comedy The Out-Laws, but it stinks to high heaven. Your reaction may vary, but it will likely be tied to whether you find Adam Devine funny or not; if you do, we probably aren’t friends. Devine plays mild-mannered, rule-following bank manager Owen Browning who is about a week away from marrying the love of his life, yoga instructor Parker (Nina Dobrev). Owen is also very close to his overbearing parents (Richard Kind and Julie Hagerty), both of whom are convinced “yoga instructor” is code for Parker being a stripper. That’s the level of humor we’re dealing with here, folks.

As close as Owen and his parents are, Parker is estranged from hers and isn’t expecting them at the wedding, until she gets a surprise note from them staying they’re actually going to make it. They show up early and immediately make it their mission to get close to Owen, even though it’s clear they can’t stand him. Pierce Brosnan and Ellen Barkin play Parker’s parents, and they are as cool and sophisticated as the Brownings are nerdy. After spending an evening drinking with the parents and talking at length about his job, Owen arrives at work the next day only to have his bank robbed by the so-called Ghost Bandits, who seem to know the keys to unlocking every level of security around his vaults. And without too much analysis of the situation, he comes to the conclusion that his soon-to-be in-laws are the bandits.

Lest you think this is a film that dangles the possibility that Brosnan and Barkin are the thieves, only to surprise us that they aren’t, no, this is not that movie. In fact, we find out pretty early on that not only are they the Ghost Bandits, but they also doubled-crossed a former criminal ally, Rehan (Poorna Jagannathan), who is now after them for millions—an amount so high, they have to rob banks again to repay or risk their daughter’s wedding getting sidetracked or worse.

Directed by Tyler Spindel (The Wrong Missy), The Out-Laws is about as dumb and broad as you can go, and it only gets worse when the bandits realize they have to enlist Owen in their next robbery—or his sworn enemy in banking, Phoebe King (Lauren Lapkus)—because of his intimate knowledge of her bank’s security measures. Not to mention, it seems like exactly one member of law enforcement (an FBI agent played by Michael Rooker) even cares about finally capturing the Ghost Bandits, who have been on the job for decades, so we’ve got him floating around the perimeter of this movie without really doing much. Throw in a couple of Owen’s co-workers (played by Lil Rel Howery and Laci Mosley) for extra attempted laughs, and you’ve got a whole gumbo pot of nothing much.

Even in the worst films I see each year, I’m usually able to look around the edges and find something I like better than the rest of the movie. But The Out-Laws is the exception that proves the rule that even the most terrible work has some redeeming qualities. You can usually count on Kind or Hagerty to give a great line delivery here or there, and I guess that the case here. Buy beyond that, you’re on your own, film lovers.

The film is now streaming on Netflix.

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Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a frequent contributor at /Film (SlashFilm.com) and Backstory Magazine. He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.