Best Laid Plans [1999]

At first, Best Laid Plans comes off like yet another all-flash-no-substance crime thriller, but it's one of those rare films that end better than they start. Nick (Alessandro Nivola from Face/Off), broke and desperate to get out of his suffocating small town, agrees to take part in a drug heist. When his partners get caught, he has less than a week to come up with $15,000 or suffer the consequences. When his college buddy Brice (Josh Brolin--Flirting with Disaster) comes back to town, Nick and his girlfriend Lissa (Reese Witherspoon) hatch a plan to bilk Brice out of a rare collectible. Of course, things go wrong--which is where things get entertaining. The plot could use a few more twists to really crackle, but the surprises it does have work, and the ending is both clever and affecting. Along the way, the best scene features a drug dealer who quotes economic theory from the bible of capitalism, The Wealth of Nations. In the past few years, Witherspoon has turned in superb performances in such varied movies as Freeway, Pleasantville, and especially Election; Best Laid Plans doesn't make much use of her talent, but she's always watchable. --Bret Fetzer

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