There aren't all that many great movies about scoundrels. Rapscallions, ruffians and reprobates have been the basis of some of the cinema's most enduring films, but not scoundrels. Scoundrels are lazy and unfocused and impishly full of potential -- they're the characters who are one pivotal moment away from blossoming into stand-up gentlemen, and that transition is usually so forced and obvious that the movies they inhabit tend to fall apart as soon as they try to get serious.

'A Bag of Hammers' is more charming than most of these flicks, and surprisingly affecting when it turns on the waterworks, but the joy of watching Brian Crano's eager and delightfully quick-witted debut feature is almost fatally dissipated by his film's inability (or unwillingness) to stick to its guns. The movie crackles with its own good-natured energy, but it can't figure out how to navigate around the conventional stuff that nails this kind of story down. The whole thing works, but for a film about slackers, it sure works a lot harder than it has to.