There have been some great films shot in Oregon over the years: Stand By Me, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Drugstore Cowboy and the Andrew Dice Clay epic Brain Smasher. But then there are the other movies shot in our backyard, some of which were done here to take advantage of the great locations this state has to offer, but most of which are done here because it's cheap. Many of these movies--for lack of a better term--really suck. These are films that lend proof to the legendary "Curse of Homer and Eddie," which holds that movies shot in Oregon are doomed to share the stench of Albany. We're talking films like The Temp, Dr. Giggles, Body of Evidence and of course, Homer and Eddie, the atrocious Whoopi Goldberg-Jim Belushi stinker shot in Oregon City. Want more examples? Men of Honor, Free Willy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Fatal Revenge, Ironheart and The Postman.
Bandits, the latest film to be partially shot in our fair state, does little to offset the legendary Curse. Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton are Joe and Terry, an oddball pair of convicts who escape from the Oregon State Penitentiary and go on a bank-robbing spree. When their criminal exploits are profiled on a television show, the two become media darlings known as "the sleepover bandits"--they take bank managers and their families hostage the night before the robbery. But things become complicated for the modern-day Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid when they meet up with Kate Wheeler (Cate Blanchett), an angry housewife looking for some excitement who becomes Terry and Joe's hostage--and eventually hops in the sack with both of them.
In all fairness to the film, Bandits is at its most entertaining during the parts that take place in Oregon. The farther south the movie goes, into California, the more it succumbs to the Curse of Homer and Eddie as the collective IQ points of the film drop at an alarming rate--by the time Joe and Terry reach Los Angeles, there's no brain activity at all.
Chemistry is almost nonexistent between Willis and Thornton's odd couple. Willis gives one of his more phoned-in performances, and words cannot begin to describe the terrible hairpiece that lurks atop his head. Thornton' s performance ranges from dry comedic near-brilliance to absurd stupidity, with no real middle ground. And then there's Blanchett, who is kind of like Katharine Ross in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, only more useless. As the recipient of humps thrown by both leading men, Blanchett only seems to be in the film to keep the main characters from seeming homosexual (though their being gay would have made a more interesting film).
Despite beautiful Oregon scenery, and some truly entertaining moments, there's not enough to warrant sitting through this two-hour mess. The film doesn't seem to know which direction it's heading, so it tries to go in as many as possible--screwball comedy, action, drama, romance. Directed by Barry Levinson, whose previous films include Diner, Rain Man and Good Morning, Vietnam, Bandits is a sad disappointment. Levinson's direction is completely by-the-numbers, lacking any true heart, but considering Harley Peyton's soulless script, it's no surprise that another shot-in-Oregon film falls victim to the curse.
Rated R. Opens Friday, Oct. 12.
Some of the best movies shot in Oregon are
Some of the worst movies shot in Oregon are