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A Simple Plan

Released: 1998

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 2 hr 1 min

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Sam Raimi

Starring: Bridget Fonda, Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, Brent Briscoe

A film directed by Sam Raimi, based on the novel of the same name by Scott Smith, who also wrote the screenplay of the movie.

The director, never missing a beat, keeps the audience guessing the story's resolution until almost the last minute.

Review by: SteveRhodes

Added: 8 years ago

"It's gonna work," Hank tells his co-conspirators in a scene late in A SIMPLE PLAN. "It's gonna work. It's perfect."

The problem is that this plan is just the latest in a long line of simple plans, each designed to cover up the botched implementation of the last, that have led these once honest people into a hell on earth.

Scott B. Smith's script for A SIMPLE PLAN, based on his best selling novel, is a carefully crafted character study with challenging moral dilemmas.

As the story opens, Hank, his brother Jacob, and Jacob's friend Lou discover a small plane buried in the snow. Inside it is a bag full of over four million dollars, which they figure must be drug money.

Hank, played by Bill Paxton from TWISTER, is the group's brain and conscience. A college-educated man in a backwoods town, he reluctantly agrees with Jacob and Lou's plan to keep the money, but only until they can figure out if it's safe or not. Hank insists that he be the one to hide it and keeps threatening to burn it if anything goes wrong. He has a very pregnant wife and a middle-class lifestyle that he doesn't want to jeopardize.

Bridget Fonda plays Hank's wife, Sarah. Starting off with the most scruples, Sarah loses them the fastest. She is soon directing her husband, the nominal head of their little group of naive criminals, in one illegal venture after another.

With a large set of bad teeth and dirty, stringy hair, SLING BLADE's Billy Bob Thornton plays Jacob as a sympathetic character, a country bumpkin whose brain is a couple of beers shy of a six-pack. Jacob has an uncanny ability to turn their simple plans for success into complex disasters. He is a middle-age man whose only "girlfriend" came from a dare back in high school. One girl earned $100 from her friends by agreeing to go steady with Jacob for a month. He even got to hold her hand once, but he's never kissed her or any other female.

Jacob's buddy Lou (Brent Briscoe) is his mental equal. The unemployed, and perhaps unemployable, Lou's claim to fame is that, at 40 years old, he's known as the town drunk.

Concealing their ill-gotten gains proves much trickier than they ever imagined. When they aren't causing their own difficulties, external circumstances conspire to throw obstacles in their way.

The press notes appropriately invoke the name of Hitchcock. Hitchcock would have naturally been drawn to this tale of average people caught up in a web from which they seem incapable of extricating themselves.

Director Sam Raimi and production designer Patrizia von Brandenstein purposely created a bleak set with a black-and-white color scheme. They saw the story as having the stark simplicity of a poem, and they wanted the viewer's attention focused on the characters.

Among the world's worst criminals, only a little luck and a never-ending series of schemes keeps them going. Along the way, however, greed causes them to start turning on each other. The director, never missing a beat, keeps the audience guessing the story's resolution until almost the last minute.

A SIMPLE PLAN runs 2:01. It is rated R for violence and profanity and would be fine for teenagers.