Devine’s character, Owen Browning, is a bank manager, despite being so cloddish and lacking in judgment or impulse control that it’s hard to imagine him being trusted to take a bag of garbage to the curb. His fiancee Parker (Nina Dobrev), is a yoga instructor everyone in Owen’s family inexplicably thinks is a stripper. She’s pleasant and conventionally attractive, but just quirky enough not to come across as bland or dull. She seems stable and mature. We never understand why she’d be with a guy like Owen, who freaks out at the most minor things, obsesses over action figures and pop culture trivia, and can’t overcome the urge to blurt out any thought that pops into his head, no matter how inappropriate or insulting. This sort of dynamic is the movie equivalent of the TV sitcom formula where an irritating, clueless, selfish man-child somehow ends up married to a beautiful saint.
Neither Owen nor his parents (Julie Hagerty and Richard Kind) have ever met Parker’s parents, Billy and Lilly, whose cover story is that they’re globetrotting anthropologists who’ve been in the Amazon for many years studying the Yanomami tribe. To their everlasting regret, Billy and Lilly do the meet-the-in-laws thing. Owen spills enough details about his job to guarantee a robbery and an investigation because Billy and Lilly need a lot of cash fast, and Owen makes it easy for them to raise it. The story is effectively over halfway through the film’s running time but insists on continuing, serving up theoretically madcap but mostly repetitive retreads of things that happened in the first half, but with more car chases and “twists” and shooting and yelling.
The cast is as impressive as its efforts are futile. Besides Brosnan, Barkin, Kind, and Hagerty, “The Out-Laws” features Poorna Jagannathan as Billy and Lilly’s deranged money launderer; Michael Rooker as an alcoholic FBI agent who wears a straw boater hat in lieu of genuine eccentricity; and Lil Rel Howery as the hero’s excitable, shout-y best friend, a type who’s been imported straight from “Get Out.” “The Out-Laws” does this sort of thing a lot, compulsively reminding you of better films you could be watching instead, from the “Ocean’s” pictures and “Heat” to “Die Hard” (a snippet of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony plays when Owen gets to see the inside of the most sophisticated bank vault in town). The title even boasts a grammatically unnecessary hyphen to ensure you know which classic provided its core DNA.