Matchstick Men is a 2003 black comedy film[5] directed by Ridley Scott and based on Eric Garcia's 2002 novel of the same name. The film stars Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, and Alison Lohman. The film premiered on September 2, 2003 at the 60th Venice International Film Festival and was released in the United States on September 12, 2003. It received generally positive reviews and grossed $65 million against its $62 million budget.

Matchstick Men
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRidley Scott
Screenplay by
Based onMatchstick Men
by Eric Garcia
Produced by
CinematographyJohn Mathieson
Edited byDody Dorn
Music byHans Zimmer
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • September 2, 2003 (2003-09-02) (Venice Film Festival)
  • September 12, 2003 (2003-09-12) (United States)
Running time
116 minutes[1]
CountriesUnited States
United Kingdom[2]
Budget$62 million[3]
Box office$65.6 million[4]

Plot edit

Roy Waller is a con artist from Los Angeles with severe Tourette syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Alongside his partner and protégé Frank Mercer, Roy runs short cons, selling overpriced water filtration systems to unsuspecting customers. One day, Roy accidentally spills his medication down the sink; he then discovers his doctor has skipped town and begins a cleaning spree in his house that lasts until the following day. Roy subsequently experiences a violent panic attack when Frank visits him. Frank suggests he see a psychiatrist, Dr. Harris Klein.

Klein provides Roy with medication, and in therapy, Roy recalls his past relationship with Heather, his ex-wife who was pregnant during their divorce. At Roy's behest, Klein informs Roy he called Heather, finding out Roy has a 14-year-old daughter, Angela. Roy and Angela meet, and her youthful energy rejuvenates him. Jubilant, he agrees to work with Frank on a long con; their target is Chuck Frechette, an arrogant businessman whom they plan to con using the pigeon drop.

One night, Angela shows up at Roy's house, saying she has had a fight with her mother, deciding to stay for the weekend before returning to school. Exploring his belongings, she causes him to rethink his life, which he mentions during therapy with Klein. Angela returns home late one night, leading to an argument between them. During dinner, Roy admits he is a con artist and reluctantly agrees to teach Angela a con. They go to a local laundromat and con an older woman into believing she has won the lottery, so she shares half of her expected winnings with Angela; however, Roy then forces Angela to return the money.

Roy goes bowling with Angela but is interrupted when Frank reveals that Chuck's flight to the Caymans has been updated to that day instead of Friday as planned. With little time, Roy reluctantly lets Angela distract Chuck midway through the con; however, after the con is finished, Chuck realizes what has happened and chases them into a parking garage before they escape. Roy then discovers Angela was arrested a year earlier and asks her to stop calling him.

Without Angela, Roy's myriad phobias resurface, and during another panic attack, he ultimately learns that the medication given to him by Klein is a placebo. To Frank's disappointment, he proclaims he needs Angela but would have to change his lifestyle. Roy reaches out to Angela, and they reconcile. After returning from dinner one night, they find Chuck waiting for them with a gun alongside a badly beaten Frank. Angela shoots Chuck, and Roy sends her off with Frank into hiding until the matter can be resolved. As Roy prepares to take care of Chuck's body, Chuck suddenly springs to life and knocks Roy unconscious.

Roy awakens in a hospital, where the police inform him that Chuck died from the gunshot and Frank and Angela have disappeared. Klein appears, and Roy gives him the password to his large safety deposit box, ordering him to provide the money to Angela when she is found. Later, Roy awakens to find the "police" have disappeared, his "hospital room" is a freight container on the roof of a parking garage, "Dr. Klein's" office is vacant, and Roy's substantial cash savings have been taken. Frank reveals in a letter that he pulled a long con. Roy drives over to Heather's (whom he hasn't seen in years), looking for Angela. Roy learns the truth: Heather miscarried their child. The young woman he thought was their child was Frank's accomplice.

One year later, Roy is a salesman at a local carpet store, where one day Angela and her boyfriend wander in. Roy confronts Angela—who looks much sultrier than when she was conning him—but ultimately forgives her, realizing that he is happier as an honest man. Angela reveals that she did not receive her fair share of the cut from Frank and that it was the only con she ever pulled. She then asks Roy if he would like to know her real name, to which he replies "I know your name." In turn, Angela says "I'll see you, Dad." before departing with her boyfriend. Roy returns home to his new wife, Kathy, who is pregnant with his child.

Cast edit

Release edit

Box office edit

Opening in 2,711 theaters in the United States and Canada, the film's opening weekend gross stood at second place with $13.0 million for a per-theater-average of $4,827; it ultimately lost the number-one position to Once Upon a Time in Mexico. The film eventually grossed $36.9 million domestically, and $65.5 million worldwide.[4]

Critical reception edit

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 82% of 186 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 7.1/10. The website's consensus reads: "Breezy and well-acted, Matchstick Men focuses more on the characters than on the con."[6] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 61 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.[7]

Roger Ebert rated the film four stars (out of four) and described it as "so absorbing that whenever it cuts away from the plot, there is another, better plot to cut to." He also recommended the film for several Oscar nominations, most notably Nicolas Cage's performance and the film's screenplay.[8] James Berardinelli awarded the film three-and-a-half stars (out of four), praising the film for its "sly, biting sense of humor" and "emotionally satisfying" elements. He also praised the film's acting, and ultimately noted that the film was "worth every cent" of the ticket price and was "the first winner of the fall movie season."[9]

Some critics were not impressed. Renee Graham of The Boston Globe criticized the film for its sentimentality, writing that "director Ridley Scott goes all gooey in this off-key adaptation of Eric Garcia's cynical novel." Despite praising the performances of Sam Rockwell and Alison Lohman, Graham was not fond of Cage, writing that he is more "irritating than interesting" and that the film follows a similar style.[10]

References edit

  1. ^ "Matchstick Men". British Board of Film Classification.
  2. ^ "Matchstick Men (2003)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on May 27, 2016. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  3. ^ Robbins, Shawn (June 15, 2012). "Number Crunch: A Look At Ridley Scott's Career". BoxOffice. Archived from the original on 2015-01-26. Retrieved October 28, 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Matchstick Men (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  5. ^ "Review: 'Matchstick Men' lights up". CNN. 2003-09-11.
  6. ^ "Matchstick Men". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 16, 2022.  
  7. ^ "Matchstick Men". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (2013-06-05). ":: :: Reviews :: Matchstick Men (xhtml)". Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  9. ^ "Review: Matchstick Men". Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  10. ^ Morisi, Jacki. "Matchstick Men Movie Review - Matchstick Men Movie Trailer - The Boston Globe". Archived from the original on 2003-09-23. Retrieved 2013-06-10.

External links edit