The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

A Bag Of Hammers

A Bag of Hammers: Wispy, Quirky Comedy

  • Amanda SeyfriedCarrie Preston...
  • ComedyDrama
  • Out now
  • Brian Cano
reviewed by
Yasmin Shehab
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A Bag of Hammers: Wispy, Quirky Comedy
Alan (Sandvig) and Ben (Ritter) are two best friends and housemates who make a living stealing cars from grieving family members at graveyards. When they rent out the house next door to them to Lynette (Preston), a single mother, they find their lives intertwining with her son, Kelsey (Canterbury), whose rough childhood and neglect at the hands of his mother, bring back memories of their own difficult childhoods.

Sandvig, in addition to starring in the film, also had a hand in writing it. Despite this, his character is far less interesting than either Ritter’s or Hall’s. Part of it is that he doesn’t have either their screen presence or their acting skills; another is that his character, like the film as a whole, isn’t fleshed out enough.

The first half focuses far too much on Kelsey and Lynette and not enough on say, Rebecca Hall who plays Alan’s sister Mel. In fact, the film in general is pretty light on Hall and she just randomly drops out of the film without having her arc tied up, even though she’s the most magnetic performer in the whole thing. Canterbury, on the other hand, has far too big a part and while he’s decent as Kelsey, his pouting does become a bit one-note after a while. 

The second half is, thankfully, far superior, mainly because Alan and Ben grow out of their immaturity and are forced to make some big decisions that shed some light on their relationship and back story. This is also where Sandvig and Ritter’s chemistry shines. They really nail the old friends dynamic and it stretches and warps as a wedge is driven between them, challenging their entire way of life.

Both Amanda Seyfried and Johnny Simmons cameo in the film – the former as Ben’s angry ex and the latter as a college-aged Kelsey. Both of the appearances are a lot of fun but they, along with some other casting choices, do make you wonder how such a tiny film with such a sparse script, managed to attract these people. 

One point that keeps the film stuck in some sort of fantasy land and prevents us from really getting into it, though, is that throughout the whole thing we’re asked to believe that two people can stand in the same spot every day pretending to be valets while stealing cars instead, and never be caught or even suspected. It’s a level of suspension of logic that practically screams quirky, a sentiment that’s only compounded by some of the costume choices. 

A Bag of Hammers is pretty inconsistent but it’s one of those films in which the second half will put a wide enough smile on your face that it’ll erase any memory of the underwhelming first half. As a result of its general wispiness though, the effect will probably be permanent and will soon extend to the second half as well.

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he film’s (great) score is by Johnny Flynn ,who fronts the English folk rock band Johnny Flynn & the Sussex Wit.

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