Deidra and Laney Rob a Train is a teen Thelma & Louise (with a happier ending, spoiler alert). It is an empowering comedy of sisterhood and sticking together than I think will become a standard for generations.
Deidra (Ashleigh Murray) is really in charge of the house because her mother (Danielle Nicolet) works so many jobs. When her mom snaps and gets arrested, Deidra concocts a plan to raise the bail money and pay off all the outstanding bills. She and her sister Laney (Rachel Crow) will rob the local train and sell the merchandise on the black market.
What makes the comedy work is that every single character has their own point of view. It’s what makes The Simpsons so enduring. Their cast of hundreds all have a full life, even those who’ve only said one line in 30 years. The cast of Diedra and Laney is considerably smaller but each one has a distinct point of view, from Laney’s mean girl beauty pageant competition Claire (Brooke Markham) to the college counselor (Sasheer Zamata) who just wants to get one kid into a real school so she can get a better job. This makes it so the characters aren’t just feeding lines. They’re fighting for what they want.
The heist is endearingly easy. This is a small town and a very slow train, but also helps make them mild criminals. The Pear cell phone company can afford to lose a box of cell phones. The film begins with a great energy and keeps it up through the caper, with moments to pause and celebrate these powerful young girls.
Murray and Crow are wonderful discoveries, as is Lance Gray as their brother Jet. The supporting cast truly supports them, including David Sullivan as their estranged father, Tim Blake Nlson as the railway cop chasing them and local Utah actors who make their new faces memorable. Nobody treats Deidra and Laney as a joke, and the joke is not their activities. The comedy comes through their badass exploits.
Deidra and Laney Rob a Train goes to the top of my list of favorite train movies which previously included Under Siege 2, Money Train and Midnight Run. Look for it on Netflix March 17.