Review: ‘Band of Robbers’ squanders its time with Tom and Huck

Brothers Aaron and Adam Nee update Mark Twain’s beloved Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn characters in the crime comedy “Band of Robbers.” Translating Sawyer’s irascible impishness to a modern day twentysomething is a clever conceit, but the film overemphasizes concept over character.

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The Nees share writing and directing duties, and Adam also takes on the role of Sawyer, playing up his flip attitude and unrepentant scheming. Kyle Gallner, best known for his role on “Veronica Mars,” brings a soulful quality to Huck Finn, who’s taken the fall for the lads’ misadventures since childhood. Recently released from prison for one such fall, Huck finds himself back with Tom and their merry band, composed of Harper (Matthew Gray Gubler), Rogers (Hannibal Buress) and henpecked Tommy (Johnny Pemberton).

Tom has inexplicably become a policeman, with fantasies of heroism dancing in his head. He has a funny way of pursuing that as he enlists his pals in an ill-fated plan to burgle some buried treasure. The film works best when focusing on the conflict between world-weary Huck and dreamer Tom, but the characters are underdeveloped and the plot overly convoluted, lacking the foundational support to prop up their antics and capers.


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It also completely squanders the comedic possibilities of the usually very funny Buress and Pemberton and fumbles Melissa Benoist, who plays Tom’s rookie partner Becky Thatcher. While preserving its lovable troublemaker, boys-will-be-boys theme, “Band of Robbers” unfortunately sacrifices the opportunity to illustrate said boys’ true motivations.

“Band of Robbers”

No MPAA rating

Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena