Right from the opening scene, the upbeat music puts you in the right mood. In the right mood to enjoy this bizarre all-American tale of crime, ambition, and justice. Stealing Sinatra is a lighthearted and incredibly charming crime comedy about three inept wanna-be criminals who kidnap Frank Sinatra’s son. I wonder if the younger generations even know who he is. I mean, it’s been so long since he was popular and the world has changed so much since then. While Elvis remains an icon that I think everybody knows about, I’m not so sure about Sinatra.
Hell, I had no idea who Liberace was despite having heard that name before. And then I saw Michael Douglas in Behind The Candelabra. Moving on, the next thing that’s going to surprise you about this movie is the cast. In the lead roles, we have David Arquette (Scream), Thomas Ian Nicholas (American Pie) and motherfucking William H. Macy (Fargo)! Ryan Browning and James Russo were also great along with the rest of the supporting cast. And you also might know the director of this movie, Ron Underwood, as he’s the guy behind the nineties classics Tremors. So, why haven’t we heard about this movie earlier?
I really don’t have an answer to that question. The only thing I can do is help spread the word and hope that in the future it’s going to get the recognition it deserves. As I’ve already previously mentioned, Stealing Sinatra is a movie based on a true story. A story that feels stranger than fiction and the movie tries to highlight that by giving us three very eccentric protagonists. However, do not let their eccentricity fool you, these are the profiles of your stereotypical American criminals. A broke guy with big dreams, an alcoholic painter struggling with his conscience, and a strong but quite dimwitted young guy with a baby on the way.
The three of them decide to kidnap Frank Sinatra Jr. back in December of 1963. Now is this a dream team or what? So, this is actually a period movie with all the appropriate details like cars, haircuts, clothes, and everything else. This is a world with no cell phones or computers ruled by payphones, something that will become important later on in the movie. All communication between the kidnappers and Frank Sinatra was done via payphones. He soon became paranoid about not having enough coins to finish the conversations and ended up carrying a huge stack of coins in his pockets. And he’s carried them ever since them even being buried with 10 dimes.
Stealing Sinatra reminds me a bit of another lighthearted crime comedy based on true events, Finding Steve McQueen. However, I think that Dog Day Afternoon would be a better match although that’s a far more serious movie with far more serious consequences. Moving on, the script is solid and while there might not be a lot of laugh-out-loud moments you’ll always have a little smile in your mind. You kind of know everything is going to resolve itself and just enjoy the ride. As they say, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.
Moreover, our dream team has made some pretty memorable and preposterous statements and demands. When they told Sinatra that they wanted $240.000 they weren’t kidding. So, just pay attention to that segment as it actually happened. I also like that this is a crime comedy without any violence or swear words, something that’s a rarity these days. Finally, if you’re looking for something a bit harder do check out Suicide Kings and The Disappearance of Alice Creed.
Director: Ron Underwood
Writer: Howard Korder
Cast: David Arquette, William H. Macy, James Russo, Ryan Browning, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Sam McMurray
Fun Facts: The producers stayed true to their word and the real Barry Keenan did not receive any money from the movie.