A Bag of Hammers

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A Bag of Hammers
A Bag of Hammers.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Brian Crano
Produced by
Written by
Music by Johnny Flynn
  • Byron Shah
  • Quyen Tran
Edited by
  • Brian A. Kates
  • Travis Sittard
Distributed by MPI Media Group
Release date
  • March 12, 2011 (2011-03-12) (SXSW)
Running time
85 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2 million

A Bag of Hammers is a 2011 American comedy-drama film directed by Brian Crano and written by Crano and Jake Sandvig, who co-stars in the film with Jason Ritter. The soundtrack was written and performed by British folk musician Johnny Flynn.[1]


Ben and Alan are great friends who have known each other since high school, and they genuinely haven't grown up. For a living, they pose as valets at funerals and then steal their customers' cars and sell them to a pessimistic car dealer. Melanie, Alan's sister, encourages them to find respectable occupations, but Ben and Alan don't take Mel's advice. Then, Lynette moves into their neighborhood. She is a single mother who is financially insecure and has a short temper, as Mel finds out. When Lynette commits suicide, Alan and Ben take her son Kelsey under their wing. With the help of an unenthusiastic Mel, who deems their idea crazy, they try to involve him within their car-theft scheme. However, they come to realize that Kelsey needs more suitable role models, and Ben and Alan will have to grow up.



Critical response[edit]

A Bag of Hammers received mixed reviews. Website Metacritic gave the film a score of 50 out of 100, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[2] Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film rating of 56% based on 18 reviews, with an average rating of 5.2/10. [3] Andy Webster of The New York Times wrote in his review: "A Bag of Hammers, Brian Crano’s low-budget dramedy and first feature, is certainly sure of itself. Any film tossing comic interludes among its closing credits has to be convinced of their hilarity and of the good will the movie has earned with viewers by then. Perhaps the film’s naked traffic in sentiment up to that point made Mr. Crano so bold. Whatever; his confidence was unwarranted."[4] John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter wrote in his review: "First-time director Brian Crano delivers a muddled comedy starring Jason Ritter and Rebecca Hall about two felons who unexpectedly wind up taking care of a neglected child."[5]

Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club enjoyed the film and gave it a B−.

A Bag of Hammers, on both sides of the camera, rests in the push-and-pull between sincerity and indie piffle... It's a struggle all the way for A Bag of Hammers, though its irony-crusted heart is in the right place... A Bag of Hammers flounders whenever it focuses on the pair's insufferable banter, or allows its soundtrack to do the heavy lifting. But the bigger problem is Crano's oddly structured screenplay.[6]

Other reviewers, such as Nick Schager of Time Out New York hated the film, giving it one star out of five.

Grifting is all fun and games until a young boy needs help in this preposterous dramedy... The real scam was the filmmakers tricking Rebecca Hall (and a cameoing Amanda Seyfried) into participating in this blunt instrument of an indie.[7]


A Bag of Hammers was released for a limited time starting March 12, 2011, at the SXSW festival and in theatres May 12, 2012.[3] The film was released on DVD on June 19, 2012, by MPI Home Video.[8]


Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
2013 Young Artist Award Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actor Ten and Under Chandler Canterbury Nominated [9]


  1. ^ "A Bag of Hammers". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Critic Reviews for A Bag of Hammers". Metacritic. United States: CBS Interactive. May 11, 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "A Bag of Hammers". Rotten Tomatoes. United States: Fandango Media. Retrieved July 19, 2017. 
  4. ^ Webster, Andy (May 10, 2017). "Two Los Angeles Slackers at Responsibility’s Door". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. Retrieved July 19, 2017. 
  5. ^ Defore, John (March 13, 2011). "A Bag of Hammers: SXSW Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles: Eldridge Industries. Retrieved July 19, 2017. 
  6. ^ Tobias, Scott (May 10, 2012). "A Bag Of Hammers". The A.V. Club. Chicago: The Onion, Inc. Retrieved May 30, 2012. 
  7. ^ Schager, Nick. "A Bag of Hammers". Time Out New York. Time Out Group Ltd.location=London. Retrieved May 30, 2012. 
  8. ^ A Bag of Hammers. MPI Home Video (DVD). Orland Park, Illinois: MPI Media Group. June 19, 2012. ASIN B007K7IBJ8. Retrieved July 19, 2017. 
  9. ^ "34th Annual Young Artist Awards". YoungArtistAwards.org. Archived from the original on April 2, 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-31. 

External links[edit]