Distributed By: SouthCreek Pictures
Reviewed by Justine Manzano
A desperate situation creates a desperate man. In essence, that is the plot of The Entitled.
I stumbled upon this movie in the midst of one of my trademark fangirl crazes, because (and I’m mildly ashamed to admit this), it happened to star the current object of my fangirl affections, Kevin Zegers, and it was the only movie of his that I could find that was available on Netflix at 9:30 at night when my son was asleep and I needed a distraction. I Googled a trailer and was intrigued and decided I would blow an hour and a half on this movie. Not winning praise, but how I found it doesn’t necessarily coincide with how I liked it. We’ll get there.
The Entitled begins by following Paul Dynan (Kevin Zegers, Gossip Girl, the upcoming film adaptation of The Mortal Instruments), as he goes on what we can automatically tell is yet another job interview. It doesn’t go well, and we learn that Paul has been struggling in this way for awhile. He lives with his parents. His father works hard, but his mother is ill. She needs medication they can’t afford. Their home is being foreclosed. Life is bad. We immediately start to sympathize with the guy.
Paul is desperate. But Paul is also smart, so he hatches a plan to correct his problem. We don’t really see how he comes up with this ingenious plan right away, but we get snippets throughout the movie as to how he pieced things together. The plan? To kidnap three rich kids, Hailey (Laura Vandervoort, Smallville, V), Nick (Dustin Milligan, 90210), and Jeff (John Bregar, Degrassi: The Next Generation) and ransom them off for three million bucks. After all, he just wants to get his due. These people have money to burn, right? To accomplish this, he recruits needy, lovestruck loose cannon Jenna (Tatiana Maslany, Being Erica, Heartland) and her even looser cannon friend, Dean (Devon Bostick, Being Erica, Diary of a Wimpy Kid). Once the plot is set into motion, the story jumps between the points of view of the kidnappers, the rich kids, and their fathers (Victor Garber of Alias fame - and so much more, the great Ray Liotta, and Stephen McHattie, Haven).
But Paul’s plan has a few problems. The fathers are too busy fighting each other about what to do to get the job of wiring the money done, and Paul’s loose cannon companions are more interested in chaos and vengeance than money. Suddenly, Paul finds his perfect plot unraveling and he finds himself working his way through hurdle after hurdle to keep himself ahead of the game and protect his family - through whatever means necessary.
My big problem with this movie, oddly contributed to my favorite bit. Those spoiled brat kids were not even remotely likable. Nick was the only one with even the tiniest bit of a redeemable trait in him. The others were brats. Their parents weren’t likeable either, and here’s why. They were clichés. Big, walking, talking, flaunting their money, not caring about anybody else, clichés. I work with rich people all the time. When old friends (even rich ones) all meet up in one place, they don’t spend the entire conversation showing off their fancy new watches or talk about how much they traded stocks and bonds, ‘buy, sell, buy, ha ha ha!’ Their entire characterization was a great big stereotype. So the kids came off as brats, their fathers as pompous. They had some complexities, but not enough, and the largest portion of their personalities were upsetting.
But there may be a reason for that, because no matter what crazy thing Paul does, no matter how much he manipulates people, twists the truth, and uses horrible incidents to his advantage, you like him. You’re rooting for him. There is some part of you that wants him to get caught, of course, but a part of you figures that if everyone gets out safe, you want him to get his money and help his family. I’m going to go ahead and chalk much of that up to Zegers. There was intensity to his performance, as he jumped from the strong, in-control leader, to a panicky kid who’d made the wrong choice in all his shaky-handed, scared shitless glory. None of the actors are bad in this movie - Garber and Bostick are particularly strong in their roles, but this is Zegers show and he owns it (and I’m not just saying that because of the hearts and flowers I was spouting at the beginning of this review - this thing is flawlessly acted from beginning to end).
The visuals in the movie are strong as well - the lighting and the editing serve to add tension, suspense and mood to the story, and the use of the voice over, the first opportunity to understand Paul’s motives, is well done in this story, rather than the cheesy way it is often used.
All in all, I sat down to watch this movie for eye candy and some mindless entertainment, and ended up with an intelligent and fun thriller, that had me waiting eagerly to see if, how and why, Paul was going to get away with this, and how he’d pieced his plan together. I’m definitely recommending this movie.