Did you know that there is a university in Kentucky called Transylvania U.? You have to wonder who their mascot is, don’t you?

It’s true. The school exists, and they have a noted library that houses some very rare books, and one is a $12 million dollar book compiling John Audubon’s “Birds of America” with spectacular color pictures.

Check this out. It ain’t “Ocean’s 11,” but it comes with its own cute tricks.

Bart Layton, a documentary filmmaker, brings his first feature to us, wrapped in a bizarre caper film you must see. Using his documentary techniques, he tells this absolutely true story by first interviewing the original thieves, all college boys with no criminal records, who pulled it off just to spice up their lives, and yes, share part of the 12 million bucks. Stupid? When video games aren’t enough?

Meet the real guys: Warren Lipka, Chas Allen, Spencer Reinhard and Eric Borsuk, doing talking head stuff 10 years after the robbery, and after they have all … well that’s a spoiler I won’t give you.

Then the action starts with the actors who play them.

Spencer Reinhard (Barry Keoghan,) the nicest, shyest kid who actually tours the library, sees the book, notes its worth, and tells his friend, a not so nice Warren (Evan Peters) who is no George Clooney plotter.

Before long, the hipper Warren talks Spencer into a dream-land caper in order to steal the book. But, of course, they’ll need “a bigger boat.” Read: more guys.

Caught up in the fever, Warren recruits Eric Borsuk (Jared Abrahamson,) an economics major, and Chas Allen (Blake Jenner) a sweet workout jock who is addicted to the rowing machine.

All the initial meetings, squabbles, discussions, plotting, screw ups and caper action are interspersed with postage stamp-size interviews with parents who, naturally, can’t believe their sweet boys would ever consider such a nightmare.

Once everything is plotted out, the library is cased and the getaway arranged, the caper starts rolling.

At this point, the whole operation puts on a comedy face.

Of course, this is real life, so naturally there comes a time in all affairs when everything drops into the proverbial toilet. The reward to you is that you’ll be glued to your seat waiting to see if they all get flushed.

When the big day arrives, and we sit in our seats holding our breath, Betty Jean Gooch (Ann Dowd), the little old lady in charge of the library and the Big Book, opens the door to the library and invites possible death into her quiet, carpeted life.

Now the slightest misstep could throw a felony robbery into manslaughter territory. There’s no backing out now, not for the boys, and certainly not for us in the seats.

All of the actors breathe fire and sweat into their performances and win my praise.

As for director Layton, it’s possible that his documentary days are over and juicer feature offers will start rolling in.

Here, he’s taken something that looks like a film student’s thesis spec script, and with luck and borrowed money has made a Hail Mary pass at the big time. Does he sink a basket? To quote the president, “We’ll wait and see.”

Along with beautiful camera work by cinematographer Ole Bratt Birkeland, and masterful editing by Nick Fenton, Chris Gill and Julian Hart, it seems Mr. Layton got our attention and pulled off his personal caper. Good for him.

J.P. Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and film actor.

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