Trapped in Paradise (1994) — Bank robberies and Baby Jesus

“In the Firpo family, the man with half a brain is king.”

Justin’s rating: Over the hills we go, stealing Santa’s sleigh…

Justin’s review: Bad reviews. Poor box office. A cast that reportedly hated even making it. Trapped in Paradise isn’t really coming at you with a whole lot of bullets in its gun, but it’s going to wave it around and fire wildly anyway until you appreciate the meaning of Christmas.

Apparently, it involves at least two (2) consecutive holdups.

Honestly, I don’t know why people hated on this movie, because Trapped in Paradise is so twistedly funny that it may be entering into my rotation of favorite Christmas movies. Giving Jon Lovitz, Nic Cage, and Dana Carvey license to ad lib their way through a crime caper was a stroke of demented genius. It’s not their fault that their efforts overshot the low intelligence of 1990s audiences. Everyone was too boondoggled with the world wide web back then.

Dave (Lovitz) and Alvin (Carvey) are two ex-cons who want to go right back into conning the second they get out of the slammer. They scam their prone-to-temptation brother Bill (Nicolas) to head to the town of Paradise, PA, to rob the most easily robbed bank in the world. But like the crew from Quick Change, the brothers find that leaving town after the successful theft will prove to be near impossible.

Their car crashed in the middle of the blizzard, the brothers find themselves cornered by unrelenting hospitality of perhaps the most gullible and warm-hearted people in the Keystone State. I mean, also the cops, deputies, and fellow crooks are closing in, but it’s really the fact that the very people that they held hostage and robbed are being so nice to them presents the greatest threat (of injecting them with Christmas spirit).

All three of the principal cast show absolutely no restraint in their acting — and that’s the way it should be. Nic Cage acts completely differently depending on the scene, Carvey affects a downright weird voice for the entirety of the flick, and Lovitz always tickles me with his particular cadence and childlike delight in anarchy. I really can’t see them resenting their roles as they ping-pong off each other as if they were really brothers who stick together even while insults and slaps fly.

And the townspeople reminded me a whole lot of Groundhog Day, another movie where a small Pennsylvania town is populated by an unbelievable amount of simple but good-hearted folk. And like Groundhog Day, their selflessness and cheer warm even the hearts of the hardened criminal.

Really wish I had seen Trapped in Paradise before this year, because now I feel like I’ve been given a Christmas miracle of my own: A new movie to enjoy during the season.

Didja notice?

  • The priest doing the crossword in the confessional
  • I could listen to Jon Lovitz talking about dinosaurs forever
  • Giant 1994 cellphone alert
  • All of the things Alvin stole
  • Guess it was OK to smoke in a bank
  • “Oh my God, guns!” is a great line reading.
  • Nic Cage’s sunglasses are so very terrible
  • The lady trying to talk them out of robbing the bank
  • Nic Cage screaming “KEYYY KEYYY”
  • The hostage song
  • The security guard who never wakes up
  • Moving a whole restaurant’s worth of hostages across the street
  • Alvin repeatedly driving off without his brothers
  • Four lefts is a circle
  • “There’s a three-legged dog over there staring at me.”
  • That’s way too much gravy
  • The cops playing basketball in the middle of the gym H.Q.
  • Edna the mom is amazing
  • Protestants don’t do confession
  • Angry pointy argument

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