The elements for a great heist are simple: a worthy target, a cohesive team, thorough planning and perfect execution. That’s also what makes a great heist movie. While so many movies create a clear delineation between the film and its viewers, a heist film sheds that barrier and brings the audience in on the action. And though most heist movies are marked by thrills and suspense, quite a few add comedy to the mix, too. Here are five particularly great ones…
Sugar & Spice
The early aughts were a big time for cheerleaders in film. While the girls at Rancho Carne High were busy stealing routines from a nearby squad, the cheerleaders in Sugar & Spice were busy actually stealing. The film follows a group of high school cheerleaders who decide to rob a bank after one of them becomes pregnant. Sugar & Spice struggled upon its initial release, but it later developed a cult following thanks to its pulpy, ripped-from-the-headlines premise, campy costuming and the fact that barely five minutes in, one of the girls is described as being “obsessed with Conan O’Brien.”
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Wes Anderson’s stop-motion comedy isn’t typically at the forefront of heist movie discourse, which could be a result of the director’s choice of medium, or his decision to use a children’s novel as the source material. Regardless, the story about a pair of wiley foxes and a lovable opossum who steal poultry and produce from nearby farms is a fun interpretation of the genre.
Guy Ritchie gets a lot of flak for favoring style over substance, but in this instance, he managed to combine both into one thrilling rush of a film. In typical Ritchie fashion, Snatch has a lot going on — a stolen 86-carat diamond, a group of gangsters, plans that just keep unraveling and man-eating pigs. But again, it very much works.
Steven Soderbergh’s 2017, non-Ocean’s Eleven heist comedy Logan Lucky follows a West Virginia family as they devise a plan to steal money from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Unfortunately for them, their heist coincides with a NASCAR race that involves a heavy FBI detail. The hijinks that ensue are bolstered by an ensemble cast featuring Channing Tatum, Daniel Craig, Riley Keough and Adam Driver as a one-armed laugh riot.
So many modern heist films are indebted to The Sting. The Depression era caper is a temperamental puzzle held together against all odds thanks to a masterful outing from Paul Newman and Robert Redford as two charming grifters who team up to pull off the ultimate con. The film was a box office hit, an Oscar sensation and now a part of the Library of Congress.