Under the Radar

'Con Man' is the Weirdest Movie of the Year

Connie Corleone and Luke Skywalker don't know what they're doing in a movie called "Con Man."

Don't be fooled by the platinum-level cast of "Con Man" (out now on DVD and Digital). Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker himself), Talia Shire (Connie Corleone Rizzi in "The Godfather" movies), James Caan (Sonny "The Godfather"), Gianni Russo (Carlo Rizzi in "The Godfather"), Ving Rhames (Marsellus Wallace in "Pulp Fiction" plus he's the WE HAVE THE MEATS guy for Arbys now) and Elizabeth Röhm (Law & Order, "American Hustle") must all be wondering how this slow-motion car crash of a movie is finally seeing the light of day almost a decade after they made it.

"Con Man" is based on the true-life story of carpet cleaning ripoff artist Barry Minkow, whose ZZZZ Best Corporation managed to float a stock market IPO before Barry got busted for cooking the numbers that supported the almost non-existent company's stock price. He went to prison, found Jesus and became a minister at the San Diego Community Bible Church. 

Barry shepherded his flock (which, being located in San Diego, certainly included a few military members, veterans or their families), started a fraud detection company and seemed to have turned his life around. He was profiled on "60 Minutes" and raised money from his parishioners to make a movie about his life, one that could lead sinners to a life of faith. If Barry Minkow could find redemption, the Lord can save anyone.

Of course, Barry insisted that he play the middle-aged version of himself (Justin Baldwin, who came to fame on "Jane the Virgin" after he made the movie but long before it was released, plays young Barry). Just as the producers were starting to screen their cut of the movie, Minkow was arrested again and charged with ripping off his congregation for more than $3 million.

The movie went into limbo and the final version (retitled from "Minkow") tries to tack on some interviews with real people portrayed in the film to give some perspective and deal with the fallout of the 2011 arrest. 

Minkow can't act a lick and his interactions with the rest of the cast are painful. Obviously, real people lost real money investing in this movie and they deserve some kind of restitution for getting conned by an unrepentant con man who used religious redemption to take their money. And then used a big chunk of it to build this disaster of a monument to himself.

Both "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "The Big Short" made complicated financial scams easier to understand and were entertaining movies as well. "Con Man" is nothing like those movies. It's hard to fathom how Minkow's scam worked from the movie and it's even harder to understand how he charmed anyone once we meet the real guy later in the movie.

This is one for the all-time bad movies list. It may be the worst movie that any of the real stars from the cast have ever gotten suckered into making. That's saying a lot, considering that James Caan has managed to make almost as many bad movies as Steven Seagal or Nicolas Cage. You have to see it to believe it.

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