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Film Reviews


Book Plot: The heist movie visits the library in “American Animals.”

Updated: Oct 17, 2018

We already know it’ll end badly.

Maybe we’ve heard the story before, or we’ve seen the trailer. Hell, even the first five minutes of the film tells us. So then why do we watch “American Animals?”

Writer/director Bart Layton quickly captivates his audience with a fascinating true story of four college boys who try to pull off the most ridiculous heist, and it’s all thanks to perspective.

It starts with a visit to the on-campus library at Transylvania University, Kentucky. Spencer (Barry Keoghan), an artist, notes that the rare books section is only guarded by one librarian and a locked door and tells his friend, Warren (Evan Peters), this information. Warren, the “ring leader” in this scenario, immediately convinces Spencer to plan a heist with him in order to profit from the near-$12 million value of the books within.

But the boys need help. They rope in Eric (Jared Abrahamson) as the “brains” of the operation, smoothing out the details of the plan, and Chas (Blake Jenner) as the getaway driver. And the rest goes down in history.

The film expertly laces together interviews of the four real-life protagonists and their families with dramatized scenes acted out by Keoghan, Peters, Abrahamson and Jenner. This docudrama structure often plays out unevenly, feeling more like a... keep reading on the burg!

“American Animals” comes to Midtown Cinema this July.

Midtown Cinema is located at 250 Reily St., Harrisburg. For more information, visit

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