This has been a strong year for the Dallas International Film Festival, with a number of films shown at it getting larger distribution as the year has gone on. One such film (which I unfortunately missed the first time around) was “A Bad Idea Gone Wrong”. Directed and written by Jason Headley, this is the story of Marlon (Matt Jones) and Leo (Will Rogers), a couple of friends who decide they need to rob something and get that “big score” in order for them to give them the life they feel they deserve. When they find a house to rob, they end up arming the alarm of the house, locking themselves in. While they try to figure out how to get themselves out, they run into Darcy (Eleanore Pienta), the house sitter, who doesn’t know the alarm code either.
Think of a John Hughes film about burglars that are not really burglars but want to be burglars paired with “Clerks” style dialogue as well as the latter’s relationships between its characters, and that is about what “A Bad Idea Gone Wrong” really is. This concept may feel a bit like a trainwreck when you read it, but it really isn’t. Keeping its cast small and confined within the space of an upper class house gives the actors a chance to do some real work here, and all three of them do a good job of keeping the story moving. Jones and Rogers work the kinda-bad-cop and really-wants-to-be-bad-cop relationship well (although I may have missed what brought them to want to stage a robbery to begin with outside of finding Easy Street), and Pienta is the nice balance between them and on a certain level is the piece of the puzzle that each of them is missing in each other. For Leo, she is the wild side that he wishes he could be and for Marlon, she is the logical side that he doesn’t realize he is lacking.
“A Bad Idea Gone Wrong” is an independent film that is not an “indie” film. There is no art-for-art’s-sake vibe here, and no one is really trying to turn the industry on its ear in an attempt to force anyone to stand up and notice. Instead, Headley puts together an interesting character study of three people with different motives and different paths that fate puts together to figure out who they are, where they are going, and why they are going there.