Few horrors can compare with the Friends curse. “I’ll be there for you,” we all sang in time to our TVs just a few short years ago, happy and contented and all sporting the exact same Jennifer Aniston haircut.
But we’re not there for the Friends now. No one is. Not in a world where headlines like, “Fat, grey and struggling for work- would you be Friends with them now?” exist. It’s a tough life, not only for the Friends cast, but for the brave officers of the NYPD who stand guard around that Central Park fountain, fending off repeated attempts from a Matt LeBlanc or a Lisa Kudrow to break in and splash around like the glory days. When the fountain’s on, no one can see the tears. Technically, none of the Friends cast have ever done that, as far as you or I might know. But the fountain isn’t even in Central Park — just some WB backlot in Los Angeles, so it’s a moot point anyway.
But of the Friends, Aniston’s the only one to keep her head above water in recent years. Horrible Bosses and We’re The Millers have no doubt kept her pockets lined with green, and that steady string of not very good, yet somewhat successful rom-coms can’t hurt either.
Few of those endeavors really get the creative juices flowing. But Aniston’s latest film might be a little different. Entitled Life of Crime, it’s an adaptation of Elmore Leonard‘s 1978 novel “The Switch,” which means it’s an ingeniously plotted crime caper with extremely self-aware characters and snappy dialogue. But “The Switch” is more than just your average Leonard work. It’s also a prequel to “Rum Punch,” which famously became Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. Everyone curious about what Robert DeNiro’s character was like before he became a paunchy, mustachioed criminal doofus — this is your movie.
Here’s how the story goes. Ordell Robbie (Yasiin Bey, the artist formerly known as Mos Def) and Louis Gara (John Hawkes) have a big score in mind. They nab the wife (Aniston) of a rich big shot (Tim Robbins), and hold her until he pays them with all those earnings that make him so financially endowed. Except Aniston’s hubby is kind of a dick, and would honestly rather just stay with his mistress (Isla Fisher) than see his wife again, which makes things awkward for everybody involved. Cue a series of complex double crosses, all of which will be set to funk music.
Adapting some Elmore Leonard isn’t a certified guarantee of greatness. Just ask anyone involved with Freaky Deaky, The Big Bounce, Be Cool or Killshot. But by sheer force of cast alone (a cast that also includes the fun addition of Will Forte), Life of Crime might be one to lump in the Get Shorty column, and not with any of the duds in the sentence before this one. Critics seem to like it, which is a sign in the right direction.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering why it’s called Life of Crime and not The Switch, like the book is, Jennifer Aniston was already in something called The Switch, and the fewer people associating this one with Jason Bateman’s wayward sperm, the better.
Life of Crime hits theaters and VOD on August 29.