High Heels and Low Lifes

Shannon and Frances are two friends that find themselves in an unbelievable situation. Both need money, but both don't realize the lengths they will go to get that money. Shannon (Minnie Driver, Beautiful, Return to Me) is a nurse at a poor hospital and Frances (Mary McCormack, Gun Shy, The Broken Hearts Club) is a struggling American actress. Apparently, both of them, and everybody else in High Heels and Low Lifes is suffering from an incredible case of terminal stupidity. Not only are the characters stupid, but the entire movie underestimates the intelligence of the viewing audience, making for an unpleasant experience. In all fairness, this may be a good movie, if it would actually figure out what the heck it was trying to be. Is it supposed to be serious or a parody? The story causes it to lean towards the latter, but the movie itself never seems to realize how bad it is.

The ball gets rolling when the two overhear plans for a bank heist on the radio. See, Shannon's boyfriend eavesdrops on calls to try to patch them together as art. When this stupid version of Thelma and Louise realize what they are hearing, like all people who have the wiring in their minds backwards, they decide to con the cons. They call the crooks, impersonating other crooks, and demand payment. The crooks relent, but then try to get the money back. The bulk of Kim Fuller (Spice World) and Georgia Pritchett's (Joan) script is an escalation of Frances' and Shannon's predicament. It's a stupid cat and mouse game that only gets worse, as the crooks, led by Kerrigan (Michael Gambon, The Insider, Sleepy Hollow), try as hard as they can to get their money back, and the women keep fighting back.

What is most distasteful about High Heels and Low Lifes is its improbability. Director Mel Smith (Bean, Radioland Murders) never explains why two people like Frances and Shannon, who both seem nice, would even think about resorting to crime to get money. Worse, they are so dumb to not know when to stop. Any sane person would scrap their scheme well before they actually do. The movie ends in a loud gun battle at a house that is truly bizarre. Here is where the parody element fails to come in. One can assume that the way that Smith wants the viewer to see humor in how Frances and Shannon stumble through their little ploy. Dumb luck and idiocy on the part of all the people around them account for their highly unlikely success. So it should be funny that they get as far as they do, especially since they have no idea what they are doing. This is not how everything comes across. Instead, it is exasperating watching all these idiots move across the screen and interact with each other. This movie is a shame for Driver and McCormack, who are both capable of doing better with such large roles.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 40 minutes, Rated R for language, some violence, and nudity.

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