Mr Clean (Adrian Martinez), Gordon (Jeffrey Tambor), Katlin (Ashley Judd), Jelly (Pruitt Taylor Vince), Peanut Butter (Tim Blake Nelson) and Gates (Matt Ryan) © 2011 Flypaper Distribution

Flypaper is one of those clever multi-character comedy capers that you just know is going to have exactly one twist too many because it won’t know where to stop. The good news is that the movie is so much fun on the way to that one-step-too-far finale that the flaw is forgivable.

Writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore have a hit-and-miss track record that makes it hard to believe the same team responsible for the unwatchably awful Four Christmases and the ghastly Ghosts of Girlfriends Past wrote the hilarious The Hangover (the first one, that is). Flypaper is a keeper, directed with a light touch by Rob Minkoff (best known for The Lion King and the Stuart Little movies). It’s a low-budget effort, but the dialog is smart, the characters are likable and stars Patrick Dempsey and Ashley Judd definitely are easy on the eyes.

Dempsey is Tripp, a hyper-perceptive bank customer who picked the wrong day to run out of the prescription drugs that keep him from being overwhelmed by all of the TV screens playing in his head. That’s because two teams of bank robbers — one an efficient trio of SWAT-like professionals and the other a pair of hillbilly morons — have chosen that afternoon to rob said bank.

Judd is Kaitlin, a beautiful but businesslike teller the robbers call “Sorta Quasi Hottie” when they divide up the hostages. The others include the flustered bank manager “Cueball” (Jeffrey Tambor), the “Creepy Mustache” guard (Adrian Martinez), a sweater-wearing loan officer dubbed “Closet Homosexual” (Rob Huebel), the irritated teller “Black Chick” (Octavia Spencer) and a “Swiss Miss” customer (Natalia Safran). The inscrutable Tripp’s fitting nickname is “Freakshow.”

Tripp (Patrick Dempsey) © 2011 Flypaper Distribution

Tripp explains his unsubtle attraction to Kaitlin by noting that “when I’m off my meds, I’m not that good with people — especially ones I want to sleep with.” She doesn’t mind the attention from TV’s Dr McDreamy, excusing his eccentricities by explaining that “normal’s just a cycle in the washing machine.”

The high-tech bad guys are the level-headed Darrien (Mekhi Phifer), the excitable Weinstein (John Ventimiglia) and a hair-trigger Welshman named Gates (Matt Ryan). When things start going wrong, Weinstein complains that “10 years ago, we would have bailed.” Darrien, who wants to use part of his take from the robbery to pay for his kid’s braces, notes that “10 years ago, we weren’t in a recession.”

Tim Blake Nelson and Pruitt Taylor Vance are the ridiculously redneck crime team known as Peanut Butter and Jelly, who are given to such bizarre pronouncements as “it’s always been my dream to work in a water park” and “are you okay, my sweet butter cookie?”

What starts out as a heist movie morphs into a locked-room (locked bank, that is) murder mystery with clues that only Tripp seems able to recognize and collate. Nearly everyone falls under suspicion, and the eventual outcome actually is unexpected.

A pleasantly breezy diversion, Flypaper definitely is worth catching.

[Rating: 3.5]

James Dawson

Jim is Film Review Online's Los Angeles based reviewer. More by James Dawson