DVD Review: “Bank$tas” Is Characteristic Of 1980s Screwball Comedies


Review by James McDonald

An office comedy about two best friend finance grads who embark on a crazy mission to stop an investment bank from closing a crooked deal involving student loans.

Growing up in the 1970s and the 1980s in Ireland, there wasn’t an awful lot to do. We didn’t have water parks and amusement parks but we did have video stores and the screwball comedies from that era, movies like “Porky’s”, “Up the Creek” and the aptly titled “Screwballs”, were the kind of movies my friends and I would watch on our VCRs when our parents were out at work. At that age, American movies were amazing, compared to the dramas that Ireland would occasionally produce, “My Left Foot”, “The Field” and “The Dead” to name but a few. For me, if there was any American movie related to high school or college, I was in. American schools always seemed to have so much more fun than the boring, uniformed schools that I attended.

“Bank$tas” is a throwback to that era of goofy comedies and while originally I got the feeling that it was going to be terrible, as it continued to play out, I found myself back in the 80s again. It’s not a movie that I would call outrageous but it does have some genuinely funny moments and the producers actually give a somewhat credible plot to accompany the sight gags. We have Neal (Michael Seater) and Isaac (Joe Dinicol), two buddies who have been friends since they were kids and who are about to graduate college. Every year, Peter Hoss (Alan Thicke), the CEO of a wealthy and renowned investment bank, offers two grads the opportunity to come and work for his company and when he chooses Neal and Isaac, they are the envy of every other student on campus.

Naturally, the pair couldn’t be happier but they quickly find out that Peter is actually planning a fraudulent deal that will affect student loans, theirs included so they must pull all their resources together if they are going to stop the scheme. In many ways, the movie reminded me of one of my favorite 1980s films, “The Secret of my Success.” The film told the story of young Brantley (Michael J. Fox), a kid from Kansas who moves to New York City to find a job, become his own boss, meet the girl of his dreams and then fly home to his parents using the company jet. Here, the story is not too far off. Both Neal and Isaac get their dream job, stop the bad guys from doing bad things, meet the girls of their dreams and live happily ever after.

You can see all of that in the first few minutes and that’s not a bad thing. Predictable? Most certainly but there is absolutely nothing new under the sun, plot-wise so even though you know what’s going to happen, getting there is half the fun. Along the way, Isaac meets Diane (Grace Lynn Kung) from H.R. and before he knows it, she corners him in the copy room and turns out to be quite the S&M mistress, much to Isaac’s delight. Neal meets the beautiful Jessica (Laura Vandervoort), the company’s legal counsel and they too fall for each other but then we also have the office scumbag, Peter’s son, aka ‘Pistol Pete’ (Brandon Firla) who does not understand the meaning of sexual harassment. He is sleazy and deviant and relishes making all the women feel uncomfortable.

Naturally, I am very skeptical of movies that are produced today but try to harken back to a previous era, in this case, the 1980s but the film actually manages to co-exist with so many other movies of its ilk from that time-frame. Granted, a movie like “Porky’s” or “Hardbodies” couldn’t be made in today’s politically correct environment, specific elements might make it through but overall, it just wouldn’t work. The 1980s were renowned for many things, big hair, stonewashed jeans and raunchy comedies and back then, that was the culture but things have changed drastically so the producers of “Bank$tas” did the next best thing; created a movie set in today’s climate and very cleverly, slipped in many 1980s references that actually complemented the film.

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James McDonald
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