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Best Laid Plans

Of mess and men.

Rod Lott July 13th, 2012

Strangely, the biggest shock surrounding Best Laid Plans isn't that someone thought to redo John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men in the world of underground mixed martial arts, but that it works as well as it does — or hell, that it works at all.


Subbing as the British film's George and Lenny are, respectively, drugged-out thug Danny (Stephen Graham, Al Capone in TV's Boardwalk Empire) and mentally handicapped giant Joseph (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, TV's Lost). The former enrolls the latter against his will in unregulated MMA scuffles for quick paydays.

Danny and Joseph are friends out of necessity, depending upon one another for survival. Their bond is threatened when they both fall in love: Joseph with a mentally handicapped woman (Maxine Peake, from the exquisite Red Riding Trilogy) he rescues from bullies; Danny with an inexplicably bosomy prostitute (Emma Stansfield, TV's Endeavour). The way director David Blair juxtaposes their love scenes is just one of the drama's tricks.

While the soundtrack is built upon upbeat UK pop, Best Laid Plans is, on the whole, a downer. Don't take this to mean it follows Steinbeck's classic to a T, because it doesn't, so those familiar with the source material can watch and still be surprised, touched and moved. —Rod Lott

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