Safe Men John Hamburg

The ingredients in Safe Men are akin to a delicious dessert out of Betty Crocker’s recipe book: take one off-the-wall script about would-be thieves who’d rather be amateur singers, throw in a great cast that in five years down the road will become some of today’s brightest actors (Paul Giamatti, Mark Ruffalo, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage and, um, Steve Zahn) and a screenwriter/director who would go on to write hits like Meet the Parents and its sequel, Zoolander and Along Came Polly (and who’s obviously pals with Ben Stiller). Sounds like nothing can go wrong, doesn’t it? Well, unfortunately Hamburg botched it and Wes Anderson pulled off the exact same project two years earlier — and he did it much, much better. Sam (Rockwell) and Eddie (Zahn) are amateur lounge singers who one day find themselves mistaken for expert safecrackers by mobster Veal Chop (Giamatti), who enlists them to work for his boss. Of course, they’re in over their heads, which presents a number of sticky situations that snowball into a predictable finale. Safe Men suffers from underdeveloped writing; Hamburg appears to have strung together desperate attempts, one after another, to generate something wacky but instead it comes across as a little too tacky. The film reeks of promise, however, and obviously everyone involved have gone on to bigger and better things, making this long forgotten film simply a footnote and nothing more. Plus: commentary; deleted scenes; short film. (Focus/Universal)