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A Simple Plan

602 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The American dream in a gym bag. That's how three men size up what they've found in the snowy Minnesota woods.
Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Rating: R
Release Date: 12-MAR-2002
Media Type: DVD

An endless white landscape of rolling hills and snow-blanketed forests. A lonely acoustic score (by Danny Elfman) playing in the background. A vision of rural simplicity portrayed in hushed tones. The stillness is about to shatter. Brothers Hank (Bill Paxton), an accountant at a small-town feed store, and Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton), an unemployed, hygienically challenged dim bulb, accompanied by Jacob's oafish pal Lou (Brent Briscoe), stumble across a downed plane in the brush containing a corpse and a sack containing millions of dollars--surely the aftermath of a drug deal, they conclude. Greed overcomes good sense, and the three agree to hide the money for a year and keep the secret to themselves. A simple plan indeed, and it doesn't take long for it to go all to hell as the lure of wealth tears at kinship and friendship, and the ruthless machinations of impetuous partners leave a body count in its wake. Bridget Fonda costars as Hank's wife, whose initial hesitation gives way to cold-blooded plotting. Sam Raimi, best known for wowing audiences with stylistic gymnastics and manic mayhem, directs this quietly desperate thriller with chilly restraint, finding its cold, tragic heart in the estranged relationship between Hank and Jacob: the college boy blind to the truth of his own family and the town loser whose tortured soul reveals a humanity lost on his brother (a brilliant performance by Thornton). Adapted by Scott B. Smith from his acclaimed novel. --Sean Axmaker

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, Bridget Fonda, Brent Briscoe, Jack Walsh
  • Directors: Sam Raimi
  • Writers: Scott B. Smith
  • Producers: Adam Schroeder, Gary Levinsohn, James Jacks, Mark Gordon, Michael Polaire
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: June 22, 1999
  • Run Time: 121 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (602 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305417830
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,553 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Simple Plan" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By The Tweeder on July 20, 2006
Format: DVD
Director: Sam Raimi

Cast: Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, Bridget Fonda, Brent Briscoe, Jack Walsh, Chelcie Ross, Becky Ann Baker, Gary Cole, Bob Davis.

Running Time: 121 minutes

Rated R for violence and language.

This is a diabolical tale about the wages of greed. Although it is played straight without intentional humor, the irony is so delicious at times that you might find yourself laughing. Jacob Mitchell (Billy Bob Thornton) is the one who begins to feel evil, and rightly so as the bodies begin to pile up. His presumably smarter brother Hank (Bill Paxton) feels mostly fear as he struggles to cover up one mishap after another. Their problems begin when they and Jacob's buddy Lou Chambers (Brent Briscoe) stumble onto a downed airplane in the woods covered with snow in which they find one dead person being feasted on by crows and a duffle bag full of hundred dollar bills. Lou, who might represent the common man, says, let's keep it. Hank, who could be rational man, says, whoa, this money belongs to somebody and besides we could get into trouble. We better turn it in. And Jacob, who is the natural man, sides with his buddy Lou. After all they're country poor and this is probably drug money that nobody is going to miss. And anyway, what can go wrong?

Well, as Ben Franklin observed a long time ago, `Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.' As they wait for spring to come and the plane to be discovered before they risk spending the money, the `simple plan' begins to unravel with horrific consequences. Thornton and Briscoe play country boys to perfection, and Paxton does a great job as a small town golden boy seriously compromised. Bridget Fonda plays Hank's pregnant wife, who turns out to be the brains (as it were) of the group.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By D. Litton on January 30, 2002
Format: DVD
Proving that thrillers needn't exhaust audiences with bloated special effects and heavy doses of machine gun-fire, "A Simple Plan" joyously recalls the days when suspensers were more about suspense than pyrotechnics. Setting the story in the cold wintry woodlands of Minnesota, Scott B. Smith's screenplay dabbles in such engrossing elements as greed, consequence, and desperation, piling on plot twist after plot twist until the intensity almost becomes unbearable.
Bill Paxton plays Hank Mitchell, a working-class man who works at a local feed store to support he and his pregnant wife, Sarah, played by Bridget Fonda. He has a brother, Jacob, who is played by Billy Bob Thornton; Jacob, along with his pal Lou Chambers (Brent Briscoe), are the town's resident drunks. One snowy day, after a visit to their father's grave, Hank and Jacob, with Lou along for the ride, have an accident that sends Jacob's dog running into the woods. While looking for the dog, they come across a downed charter plane, its pilot dead, with a gym bag of four million dollar in tow.
The three waste no time tearing into the bag of "lost treasure," despite Hank's reservations about keeping the money. But Jacob and Lou have other plans, those which do not include alerting the proper authorities as to their recent find. After a heated argument, they agree that they will wait to split the money until they feel certain that no one will come looking for it. Just for safekeeping, Hank takes charge of the money, which soon takes charge of his good-hearted nature.
As the plot thickens, things begin to work into a frenzy. Sarah, now overcome with the idea of a wealthy life, urges Hank to keep a close watch on Lou, as well as Jacob, who becomes increasingly unstable as things reach new heights of desperation.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By The Jaundiced Eye on August 12, 2005
Format: DVD
This is a brilliantly acted and directed look at the effects of greed on seemingly normal people. Bill Paxon and Bridget Fonda portray a happily married couple with a child on the way...Billy Bob portrays Paxon's brother, as (what seems to be) a dim-witted, worthless bum....and Brent Briscoe portrays Billy Bob's best friend, another unemployed bum, who is actually flattered to be called "The Town Drunk".

SPOILER ALERT: The three men discover a huge sum of money ($4.4 million) and talk themselves out of turning it in to the authorities, preferring instead to follow a "simple plan": hide it for a year, until "the heat is off" and then split it up and leave town. After all it is probably "dirty money" from some drug deal, and no one will be the worse for it....right? Unfortunately, the magnitude of this windfall is so great that it joins forces with the inherent weaknesses of human nature to completely undermine this "simple plan" and wreak havoc upon our "seemingly normal" characters, their neighbors, and associates.

The film is often compared to the Coen Brothers' "Fargo", partially due to the stark, expansive, snowy setting, but I feel that it also compares quite favorably to their first, classic 1984 film "Blood Simple", in which another "simple plan" leads to an ungodly tangle of murder and mayhem. Watch both, and you decide.

There are several violent plot twists, but to me the most impressive twists were of the psychological kind, and thus perhaps too subtle for those interested only in "blood and guts". Billy Bob turns in a magnificent performance as he gradually reveals himself to be not the dim-witted bum we thought, but a kind, sensitive, intelligent, and ultimately compelling individual.
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