In “Marmalade,” the protagonist, Baron (Joe Keery), is described by a police chief as being “dumber than a box of crayons.” While this may hold true for the character, it doesn’t justify treating the audience in a similar manner.
Written and directed by Keir O’Donnell, “Marmalade” struggles to find humor in Baron, who sports an exaggerated Southern accent and frequently mangles words. O’Donnell seems to acknowledge the lack of comedic potential in the premise, prompting the film to pivot from a hicksploitation comedy to a convoluted thriller. However, this attempt to salvage the narrative only exacerbates the film’s shortcomings, transitioning it from merely insulting to downright incoherent.
The plot revolves around Baron recounting his involvement with a strawberry blonde named Marmalade (Camila Morrone) to his cellmate, Otis (Aldis Hodge), after being incarcerated. Marmalade persuades Baron to assist her in robbing a bank under the guise of needing money for his sick mother. In exchange for aiding Baron’s escape, Otis stands to gain a share of the stolen $250,000. However, Baron’s single-minded obsession with Marmalade clouds his judgment.
Baron’s naivety raises questions about whether he belongs to the lineage of cinematic dimwits who fall prey to femme fatales. O’Donnell’s screenplay draws on tropes from a certain crime film of the 1990s, borrowing shamelessly from its premise. While O’Donnell may not owe royalties for this inspiration, the film fails to offer viewers a compelling reason to invest their time.
Ultimately, “Marmalade” falls short in delivering both humor and coherence, leaving audiences feeling shortchanged and underwhelmed by its lackluster execution.