Violent, vulgar, and stupid, director Stuart Stone‘s indie “Vandits” isn’t totally terrible, but it certainly isn’t any good. Perhaps there’s a very small target audience out there that will discover this Canadian crime comedy and will find it funny, but the flimsy sight gags and lazy bathroom humor doesn’t land on a universal scale. By setting his story on Christmas Eve, Stone (along with co-screenwriter Adam Rodness) is clearly trying to cement his project as an alternative holiday movie for the offbeat crowd, but I don’t see this one even reaching the most basic level of cult classic. Simply put, this film didn’t work for me.
Uncle Sheldon (Tony Nappo) is the leader of a small-time gang of stoners in Manitoba who call themselves the Vandits (a “brilliant” moniker, since they like to hang out in a van). His cohorts include nephew Veeny (Francesco Antonio), Jesse (Victoria Turko), and Guy (Jesse Camacho). One night, the group of idiots hatch a plan to rob a bingo hall full of senior citizens, hoping to grab the game’s $25,000 grand prize. What should be an easy score turns into a nightmare, as the gang gets stuck in a “Groundhog Day” type of situation. There’s blood, carnage, and a time loop that causes each one of the criminals to relive the heist.
By using storytelling that gives the viewers a different point of view, Stone adds new elements to the narrative in a clever way. Some of the stories work better than others, but all of the material skews towards the bottom of the lowbrow scale. The tone is reminiscent of Canadian mockumentary sitcom “Trailer Park Boys,” so if you’re a fan of that type of humor, you may enjoy this movie, too.
The mediocre performances are the kind that are low level charming rather than distractingly bad. The casting is perfect for the material, which doesn’t demand Oscar-quality turns. The characters are also well-developed, which proved to be a welcome surprise. The production values, special effects, and directing also exceed expectations.
“Vandits” isn’t a movie that I’d actively seek out, and you’ll know within the first 20 minutes if it’s something that you’ll want to stick with until the end. For those of you who decide to bail, I’m happy I could watch it so you didn’t have to. For everyone else, I’m thrilled you found something that matches your sense of humor.