Dir: Kurt Matilla, Matt Checkowski. US. 2006. 90mins.
A cute but superficial scam caper, Lies & Alibis is easy on the eye butleaves no real lasting impression. Despite its many flaws, first-time directorsKurt Matilla and Matt Checkowski do bring a zippy flair to the material, helpedby a good-humoured score and the sunny locale.
The film opens in LA from Nov17, but its best prospects rest on DVD, where its name cast should see it dobrisk, impulse-rental business, especially if marketed to The Usual Suspects or Lock,Stock & Two Smoking Barrels crowd. But the material is too thin and theexecution too glib to interest international audiences used to better caper movies,although the casting of Steve Coogan and Rebecca Romijn could give it limitedtraction in select overseas markets.
Ray Elliot (Coogan) is anex-confidence trickster who runs an agency that helps clients get away withadultery.
When the son of his biggestclient Wendell Hatch (Brolin) accidentally kills his illicit paramour, Ray iscalled on cover it up, although a police detective (Mazar) has her suspicions.Meanwhile, Ray's past catches up with him in the form of a dangerous bad guy knownas The Mormon (Elliot).
There's far more to the Lies & Alibi's plotline than this,but also far less to the film overall once the thinness of the material starts tograte. The endless double- and triple-crosses especially never feel that realas they unfold: in particular, one long hotel sequence at the end, when theaudience is supposed to buy into the clockwork-like precision with which thebig swindle has uncoiled, lacks clarity.
Steve Coogan proves an oddchoice in the lead, lacking the necessary wisecracking presence and crucialcoolness that make him worth caring about; instead he simply seems put-upon andirritated. There is also little chemistry between Coogan and Rebecca Romijn,who agreeably underplays her role as Ray's new employee.
Fortunately James Brolin,Sam Elliott and Selma Blair have fun with their roles, including one hilariousscene near the end when what seems like an entire police force is crammed intoa hotel room.
The production design (sunnysouthern California locations including a stylish retro-modern hotel), hip and humorouslyedgy jazz-rock score and competent photography do at least help Lies & Alibis feel less tiresomethan it actually is.
James D Stern
Amy E Duddleston
Deborah Kara Unger