By William Wolf


Elmore Leonard’s 1978 book “The Switch” has been brought to the screen as “Life of Crime,” shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, and it is an enjoyable crime romp with typically off-beat Leonard characters and twists. The film arrives at a sentimental time, given the recent death of the highly popular author, who was also executive producer.

Adapted and directed by Daniel Schechter, the tale involves a caper gone awry. Tim Robins plays Frank Dawson, a boorish Detroit businessman married to Mickey, portrayed in a first-rate acting job by Jennifer Aniston. She doesn’t know that he has stashed away illicit money in the Bahamas, where he is headed, and that he has a mistress, Melanie, played by Isla Fisher.

Two low-life criminals, played by yaslin bey, also known as Mos Def, and John Hawkes, plot to kidnap Mickey and demand ransom from Dawson. What they don’t know is that he is serving divorce papers on his wife. If she were killed by the kidnappers when he doesn’t pay the ransom, think of the alimony he could save. Meanwhile a family friend, played by Will Forte, who is enamored of Mickey, drops in and causes a problem.

The twists and turns begin. Mickey is no pushover, and neither is Dawson’s mistress. The kidnappers are, of course, bunglers, and the fun for an audience lies is enjoying the kind of mischief and character types that Leonard was so good at concocting. Although the film isn’t in the league of “Get Shorty,” there is still plenty of amusement to be had. Posted November 3, 2013.


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