So last night, I got home and was still in a foul mood from way too much working. Luckily my roomate had not yet sent back A Simple Plan to the fine people of Netflix. I saw this in the theater when it was released in 1998, but had not seen it since. I remembered being impressed at the time, but after my viewing yesterday evening I wonder why it was easy to forget just what a good film this really was.
Sam Rami directed the film. He is definitely more famous for his Spiderman movies (which incidentally I believe reinvented the superhero genre for the better, but thats for another time) and he sets the film in winter in some sorta Minnesota or North Dakota type state from what I remember. Crows are everywhere and somehow set the mood. At the beginning of the film a character observes, "All they do is wait around for womething to die, then feast on the remains. What strange animals..."
The films formula is pretty simple, 3 guys find way more money than they have ever seen and need to decide what to do with it. When a character asks his wife, "What if you found [this]?" Or, "I need to believe that you would have done the same..." you can't help but be pulled in as the viewer and ask yourself the same questions. Of course things wind up going wrong sooner rather than later, and as the characters in the film need to decide, how much is too much to take or when does it stop being worth it you are asking yourself the same. Paxton, Billy Bob Thorton, and Bridget Fonda are all nearly perfect in this movie. Though they may not be making the wrong decisions, you feel they are making them for the right reason and they become characters you can empathize with.
This film didn't win, or wasn't even nominated for any awards far as I can remember. Sam Rami will always be associated with the Spiderman movies now and is unlikely to be noted as a great director in the way that people will feel the need delve into his cannon. Billy Bob Thorton has had his share of great roles since this, and probably Paxton, and Fonda as well. Maybe those are reasons it's easy to forget the film 8 years on. But when I went to bed, shortly before 2am I had a very hard time forgetting it for a second time, and still am having a hard time today.