Adam Devine and Pierce Brosnan together after bank robbery in Netflix's 'The Out-Laws' trailer

‘The Out-Laws’ review: Adam Devine and Pierce Brosnan in an uninspired Netflix crime comedy

Like the chicken and the egg, it’s hard to know what came first for the new Adam Sandler-produced Netflix film, The Outlaws: Was it the title or the concept?

My gut would lean toward the former, so much so that this watchable if forgettable crime comedy feels like an entire movie wrapped around a simple pun. In case you somehow missed it, imagine for a second that your mysterious in-laws came to town on the verge of your wedding and turned out to be “outlaws.” Take it?

The Outlaws

The bottom line

Meet the criminals.

Release date: Friday 7 July
Launch: Adam Devine, Nina Dobrev, Ellen Barkin, Pierce Brosnan
Director: Tyler Spindel
Screenwriters: Ben Zazove, Evan Turner

1 hour and 37 minutes

As silly as it sounds, the outlaws in question, played by Pierce Brosnan and Ellen Barkin, manage to take the concept to some fun places, mostly because their characters – a pair of bank robbers named Billy and Lilly – really seem to they don’t give a shit. Compared to their yoga-teaching daughter, Parker (Nina Dobrev), and her boyfriend, Owen (Adam Devine), who is like a loaf of Wonder Bread in human form, the elders are true iconoclasts: a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde with AARP season tickets.

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Director Tyler Spindel (The wrong miss), a regular on Sandler’s Happy Madison shingle, and screenwriters Ben Zazove (Gnomes Sherlock) and Evan Turner get all the comedic mileage they can from the generation gap that separates badass Billy and Lilly from yawning Parker and Owen, who lead forgettable lives in mundane suburbia.

The catch is that Owen runs a bank for a living, a bank that Billy and Lilly, who use the generic (or is it geriatric?) moniker of “Ghost Bandits,” end up robbing so they can pay off the evil boss. , Rehan (Poorna Jagannathan, using an exaggerated Slavic accent), to whom they owe a considerable debt. Owen soon discovers that the bandits are, in fact, his future in-laws, and when Parker is taken hostage by Rehan, he teams up with them to pull off an even bigger bank heist to get her back, transforming from a milquetoast nobody . into an unlikely hero.

The plot is entirely predictable and the jokes not always retrievable, especially zingers like “I thought we defunded the police!” which Owen shouts as he flees the police. Most of the humor is very 90s, between the occasional pop culture references (Owen dresses up as Shrek for a robbery) and gratuitous innuendo, whether it involves Owen’s mother (Julie Hagerty) recalling an orgy of once with Dan Marino (say what? ) or some ridiculously over-the-top sexual talk between the two boyfriends (“I’ll twist you like one of your Go-Gurts and drink you dry.” Umm, no thanks.)

Devine’s antics are so extensive that Owen hardly feels like a real person. The same could be said for his in-laws, though 69-year-old Barkin and 70-year-old Brosnan bring a good deal of experience and class to their rather unclassy characters, as well as some gravitas for a film that never gets caught too seriously. There is a beautiful story at the heart of The Outlaws about Parker coming to terms with his family’s long criminal history. But that’s more or less sidelined in favor of all the nonstop gags, in a movie that starts out as Meet the Parents and ends up as a fool the Expendablesincluding some excessive violence.

According to online sources, the production budget was $47 million and you can definitely see that money on screen, both in the various high-tech bank vaults being robbed, a huge John Wickshootout-style taking place in a vegan wedding cake shop or a madcap car chase through a crowded graveyard, where dozens of headstones fly apart like broken Lego pieces.

The action sequences prove more compelling than the film’s main story arc, which concerns whether Billy and Lilly will eventually welcome a wimp like Owen into their clan. Their son-in-law must constantly prove that he is up to the task, that he is a man and not just a mensch. Like Owen’s assortment of bland Old Navy clothing, The Outlaws he eventually aspires to a very normcore ideal of marriage, using a lot of guns and gags to save a perfect straight couple from potential doom while preserving two perfect nuclear families. Maybe it’s still the ’90s after all.