Watch: There Are Some Ruthless People in 1st Trailer for Life of Crime

 Life of Crime, Elmore Leonard, Switch, movie, trailer, Jennifer Aniston, still

Life of Crime, a film based on a novel by Elmore Leonard, premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.  Now that a release date has been set, we have the first trailer.

I am a big fan of Leonard and while it would be nice if they’d kept the title of his novel, “Switch”, in this case, it was probably because of the title of another Jennifer Aniston flick, The Switch with Jason Bateman. Ironically, the title of that movie was changed from the infinitely more interesting The Baster.

Beyond the similarities of the titles of two completely unrelated films, this trailer reminds me so much of 1986’s Ruthless People that I had to wonder if that movie was also based on Leonard’s book.   It was not, although the plots are so similar I’m surprised that Leonard didn’t sue Dale Launer, the writer of Ruthless People.  (He didn’t, but apparently the estate of O. Henry did.  Although Launer claimed that he didn’t consciously lift anything from O. Henry, it was ruled that the movie resembles “The Ransom of Red Chief'” to such a degree that O. Henry now shares script credit.)

Sure, there are details that are different, for instance the kidnappers in the earlier movie are a couple who’ve been cheated by a the nasty Dan Hedaya and kidnap his wife (Bette Midler) ” in retaliation, without knowing that their enemy is delighted they did”.

No one would ever mistake Jennifer Aniston for Bette Midler, but the plot of Life of Crime, simply put is, “The wealthy husband of a kidnapped wife doesn’t want to pay her ransom.”

Seriously, is it just me? No it isn’t. Despite the fact that no one seems to be mentioning the similarities now, back in 1986, this film was in development at 20th Century Fox with Diane Keaton attached as Mickey Dawson, but the project was shelved for that very reason.

Oh well, there will be plenty of double crosses and plot twists that could only come from the mind of the late great Elmore Leonard, so I’m in. Take look at this:

“Switch” is actually a prequel to “Jackie Brown”.  In Life of Crime, Mos Def (using his given name Yasiin Bey) and the ever-brilliant John Hawkes play younger versions of the characters played in the Quentin Tarantino film by Samuel L. Jackson and Robert DeNiro.  Pretty good casting, JMHO.

Life of Crime, directed by Daniel Schechter with Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, Isla Fisher, John Hawkes, Yasiin Bey, Will Forte, and Mark Boone Junior, opens in the US on August 29.