12/16/16

TRAPPED IN PARADISE - REVIEW


Trapped In Paradise was a comedy released in 1994 about two ex-con brothers Dave and Alvin (Jon Lovitz & Dana Carvey) who convince their brother Bill (Nicolas Cage) to rob a bank with them in the small town of Paradise on Christmas Eve.

Despite trying desperately to not be like his petty thief brothers, Bill nevertheless agrees to help steal the money from the bank when he believes himself to be a fugitive after an earlier incident involving the kleptomaniac Alvin trying to rob a convenience store. The robbery itself is a bit of a mess but it is successful, it's escaping from Paradise which proves to be the real challenge with bad luck and distractions getting in the way. As they meet more and more of the city's genuinely friendly and caring inhabitants, they start to have second thoughts about keeping the money. The Lovitz, Carvey & Cage team is an unlikely one and, indeed, Nicolas Cage feels very much like the odd one out but this is quite appropriate for the character plus it looks like Cage is seconds away from laughing in most scenes so he's clearly having fun. If you're expecting the reliably off-beat actor to act over-the-top then you're in luck because every line he has is delivered about as strangely as you'd expect.

That Trapped In Paradise rarely makes people's Best Christmas Movies lists is a shame because it's certainly less corny than more popular choices like Elf or plain awful ones like The Holiday. This is a funny film with an irresistible cast, even if Carvey's performance is nearly grating at times, and a subtle dose of Christmas spirit which pops up here and there, only to deliver right at the end. Richard Jenkins is the FBI agent trying to catch the thieving brothers, you've got the local cops after them, the shady deputy and a couple of mobsters newly out of jail who have also kidnapped their mother so even if the film is a little long at almost two hours, it's never boring and there's always something fun or goofy going on. M├Ądchen Amick, of Twin Peaks fame, is the love interest and although she's pretty good, her character and her relationship with Bill feels a little underwritten and is the weaker element of the film. That said, Trapped In Paradise is funny and charming enough that its weaknesses are nitpicks more than anything else.

This is a really likeable Christmas comedy which Nicolas Cage fans should definitely appreciate. It doesn't pack a huge emotional punch or anything but it balances jokes and Christmas spirit really well and it's hard not to have a good time watching this film, especially around the holidays.

Underrated.

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