When it comes to movies starring Jennifer Aniston, the term "hit or miss" is something of an understatement. But add Yaslin Bay a.k.a. Mos Def, Will Forte and Tim Robbins to the mix and you've got yourself some undeniable possibilities for goodness. Such is the case with Daniel Schechter's latest film, Life of Crime. Set in the 1970s and based on Elmore Leonard's The Switch (also, incidentally, the name of a Jennifer Aniston movie), the film centers around a kidnapping under the false assumption that Mickey Dawson (Aniston) is given a shit about by her alcoholic husband, Frank Dawson (Robbins), a wealthy, thieving landlord with a penchant for affairs.
Mickey, very much the martyred housewife, goes through the motions of acting interested in her husband's social life, attending parties and country clubs, all the while only in it for her son's sake. The relationship she has with Frank is strained at best and abusive at worst. Her son, Bo (Charlie Tahan), also has nothing positive to say about the man, remarking, "He doesn't know shit." But even the offer of an affair by fellow country club-goer Marshall Taylor (Will Forte) doesn't make her feel any sort of excitement. If anything, it leaves her revolted.
And so, when she's kidnapped by two ex-cons named Ordell Robbie (Mos Def) and Louis Gara (John Hawkes), her reaction is understandably somewhat disturbed, yet also utterly zen. Knowing that her husband doesn't love her, Mickey laughs when Louis--who she strikes up something of a romantic rapport with--tells her they're asking for a million dollars (of which Frank swindled by skimping on the cost of his appliances in his apartments).
The true apple of Frank's eye is Melanie (Isla Fisher), a buxom redhead with a lax attitude about everything, that is, until Ordell comes to find her and Frank in the Bahamas to personally extort his money. This results in Melanie using her charms on him to talk down his asking price and throw in offing Mickey for good measure (she can't have Frank feeling suddenly guilty and retracting his divorce papers, after all).
In the meantime, Mickey must stave off the perverted actions of Richard (Mark Boone Jr.), the Nazi sympathizer/paraphernalia collector whose house she's being held captive in. Ultimately, Louis saves her from his raping clutches and takes her back to his apartment where they, surprisingly, don't consummate their relationship. In fact, it is this strange plot twist, for lack of a better term, that makes Life of Crime so interesting and so telling of the decade that was the 1970s. Rather than being an era of cliches, it was a time that emphasized change and revolution (albeit not quite to the same extreme as the 60s). Rather than allow herself to jump from one form of monogamy to another, Mickey merely seeks friendship from her former captors, who seems to know much more about living a life of excitement than she does.