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DVD Review: Criminal Ways

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Criminal Ways is the tale of a gang of misfit thieves who get far more than they bargain for when they set up a diamond heist.

The gang is led by self-proclaimed 'hardened' criminal Marcus, played by Russell Dykstra (Romulus, My Father). His very pretty sister, Kirsty, is played by the adorable Isla Fisher (Confessions of a Shopaholic). Danny is played by Nick Giannopoulos, who also directed the film. Billionaire Aurora Van Dyke is played by Lena Cruz (Shortland Street). The gang is basically a bunch of misfits, but not in the wholesome, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" kind of way. The gang is crass, zany, and definitely a bit odd.

Enter suburban song-and-dance man Danny. He has a lot passion for the arts, but unfortunately he's a bit clumsy and without much real talent. Even worse, he is not very street-wise either. Surprisingly, at first Danny wisely doesn't want anything to do with this band of misfits and decides to leave — at least until he sees Kirsty. Then he is head-over-heels in love, and determines to figure out a way to stay and make this work.

The would-be thieves hire Danny to train them to be a kid's act so they can infiltrate billionaire Aurora Van Dyke's grandson's birthday party. All this so they can steal her multi-million dollar diamond. Danny has no idea about the heist until later.

They do have an elaborate scheme planned out, but nothing goes right, of course. However, they are seen on TV news coverage of the theft, and The Wannabes are born and unbelievably, they become a great hit.

This is a silly and at times hysterical comedy. It does have some moments, but even so, I found the movie a bit disturbing. Maybe that's because I am a mother and grandmother and it is made to appear in many ways more like a children's movie. I certainly would not want my children (when they were growing up) or my grandchildren to walk in on this movie, or to watch it.

Unfortunately, because there are children are in this movie — and it is a bit zany — children may well gravitate to it. But this is a young adult/adult comedy  due to its adult situations and language, despite the presence of children in the movie.

The movie is entertaining in an in-your-face and immature kind of way. However, because of the conversations that took place in front of children in the film, and the conversations and actions where children participated during the film I kept finding myself — as a parent and grandparent — thinking of my grandchildren somehow ending up watching the movie at someone's house which was not a pleasant thought. Personally, I can't imagine allowing a child to star in, much less watch, this movie.

Although Criminal Ways did have me laughing and feeling incredulous at some of the hysterical sequences, I wouldn't call it a great movie, or even a good movie. But I can say I watched it and enjoyed some of it.

The special features on the DVD include Spanish subtitles and closed captioning. It is presented in widescreen 16 x 9 video, and 2.0 stereo.

This movie was originally released in Australia 2003 as The Wannabes and apparently was rated M for mature audiences (for 15 and up in Australia). MaryAnn Johanson from the Flick Filosopher described the film as "a terrifying attempt at a children's movie… or a horrible attempt at satire. It's hard to tell which — either way, you should run in the other direction as fast as you can and never look back. Maybe it's a cultural thing, but this is one of the worst films I've ever seen."

Criminal Ways will be available on DVD on October 27, 2009 from Magnolia Home Entertainment.

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