The Western genre, a long-standing movie staple, is characterized by a rough-around-the-edges hero, who musters his steely courage in order to exact vengeance. There’s always a small but hardy village standing tough in the middle of a harsh and desolate landscape. Despite its modern context, this movie does not disappoint; especially since, unlike traditional Westerns, the protagonists have realistic flaws. The stakes are high as two brothers, a divorcee and an ex-con start robbing banks out of desperation to save their family’s dying Texas ranch. Not far behind are a couple of old pros, a ranger and his partner assigned to what was expected to be a small time offense. As the lawbreaking escalates, everyone involved quickly realizes their lives are on the line.
The fact that there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking or mind-blowing would normally be a strike against a movie; but this particular caper seems to be an homage to Guy Ritchie’s signature style, rather than a knockoff. As closely as anyone could base a movie on a major British news story, several old professional thieves team up to procure retirement funds. But don’t be fooled; though they only steal from the filthy rich and never kill anyone, none of them could be compared to Robin Hood. The young’un of the bunch has specific recruiting criteria: “Now the way I see it, this is an old school gig. And needs an old school crew.” However, as one of the first of the reluctant hires points out, “There’s old school and then there’s just… old.” According to the actor who plays him, “People should see this movie because this is what your granddad was up to when you weren’t looking.”
Old Ned Devine bought the winning lottery ticket! Unfortunately, he died from the shock of it. His friends decide to cash in his ticket; after all, that is what their dearly departed friend would’ve wanted. Unfortunately, they must fool the man from the lotto who’s coming to verify Ned’s identity. Word travels fast in a rural village so they must enlist the help of a few others and eventually, the entire town. Fortunately, there’s more than enough money to go around when split amongst them so everyone agrees… except for mean old Lizzie Quinn. Unfortunately, she’s determined to make good on her threat to rat them out.
Who else could play a deaf man, who witnessed a murder and a blind man, who heard it, other than two incomparable funnymen: the sensitive Gene Wilder and the bold Richard Pryor? It helps that—prior to Wilder turning down his role in the farce—each lead went to a special school—Wilder for the deaf and Pryor blind, respectively—in order to portray these challenges with accuracy. The script was then rewritten for them and their genuine chemistry is what breathes life into the slapstick.