A Simple Plan ★★★★

A SIMPLE PLAN is Sam Raimi’s underrated 1998 thriller starring Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton as brothers who uncover a downed airplane in an isolated midwestern nature preserve and find a bag inside filled with $4.4 million dollars. Based on the stellar novel by Scott Smith (THE RUINS), this film is a tragedy about the inaccessibility of the American Dream for those in the nature’s heartland. 

Despite being 20 years old now, it feels awfully contemporary. Paxton plays Hank, a college educated feed store clerk whose wife is expecting their first child, but realizes his life has no upward mobility. His brother, Jacob (Thornton), is a pathetic figure, mostly out of work and scraping for odd jobs, and living a lonely life in a rundown apartment with his dog. Despite their different stations, neither brother is going anywhere. They are stuck in a rut. Hank’s education has gotten him nowhere; Jacob’s a loser who’s memory is great because the past is all he has to live for.

These men become willing to do bad things to keep their found riches. “Goddamnit, this is what it costs!” Hank cries out during one of those terrible deeds. To wit, this is how many Americans feel now. The promise of a college education feels like a lie, but the reality of choosing not to get one is worse. The prospect of raising a family feels increasingly difficult, or nearly impossible. So, maybe the only way out and up is to get a little dirty. It works for so many, including the President.

Maybe this is one of the major reasons why so many Trump supporters are choosing to stay on the bandwagon despite the mounting evidence proving his criminality. Maybe they just see this as what it takes to get ahead. After all, who wouldn’t try to keep a bag of millions if they found it lying around? We draw lines in the sand as to how far we might go to get the lifestyles we covet, but those shift with the tide and the pressures of living. You just got a flat tire you don’t have the money to replace? Your kid is sick? You are a couple days away from payday and there’s next to nothing to eat and even less in your bank account? These things chip and chip until maybe you might consider getting your hands dirty, or at least believing in the perceived intelligence and fortitude of those who have and have succeeded.

A SIMPLE PLAN is on Amazon Prime and Hulu. It’s worth a watch.