A Simple Plan

A Simple Plan Information

A Simple Plan is a 1998 American drama film directed by Sam Raimi, based on the novel of the same name by Scott Smith, who also wrote the screenplay of the film. The film stars Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton and Bridget Fonda. It was shot in Delano, Minnesota and Ashland and Saxon, Wisconsin. Billy Bob Thornton was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Scott Smith was nominated for the Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay.

Several prominent critics praised the film for its complexity and taut suspense (four stars from Roger Ebert and Critic's Choice from The New York Times).


Hank Mitchell (Paxton) and his pregnant wife, Sarah (Fonda), live a content, quiet life in rural Minnesota. Hank, one of the town's few college graduates, works in a feed mill, while his wife is a librarian. Jacob (Thornton) is Hank's dim-witted brother. When Hank, Jacob, and Jacob's friend, Lou (Briscoe), chase a fox into the woods during a drive in the country, they find a crashed airplane. The pilot is dead and the only cargo is a bag full of unmarked bills totaling approximately $4.4 million.

Hank suggests handing the money to the police, but is persuaded not to by Jacob and Lou. Hank's condition is that he keep the money safe at his house and no one spends anything until winter ends and everyone moves away when they divvy up the cash. All agree to keep the discovery a secret. When they return to their vehicle, Carl Jenkins, the sheriff, appears and Hank nervously talks to him while Jacob mentions hearing a plane in the area. Hank breaks the pact when he reveals the discovery to his wife, who is overjoyed.

When Hank and Jacob return to the plane to put some of the money back as part of a larger plan to avoid suspicion, they come across an old man on a snowmobile. Jacob, thinking their cover is blown, bludgeons the man. When the man regains consciousness and asks for the police, Hank suffocates him in order to make it look like an accidental death. Jacob reneges on his promise to move away during the summer, and tells his brother about his intention to buy his father's farm with his share of the money. Hank thinks that his brother is being ridiculous as neither of them know anything about farming.

Lou drunkenly demands some of the money from Hank, because he has spent recklessly since the discovery and needs cash fast. Hank refuses and Lou threatens to tell the authorities about the old man's death. Hank and Jacob team up against Lou. Lou, drunk and enraged that the two conspired against him, pulls a shotgun on the two brothers. Jacob kills Lou to save his brother, and then Hank kills Lou's wife when she appears, attempting to kill Hank with a revolver. Hank concocts a plan as to what to tell the police to avoid arrest. The plan works, thanks to Hank's solid reputation in the community and Jacob's rehearsed speech to the police. Jacob tells Hank that this whole turn of events is wearing on him and that he "feels evil".

Later, Carl calls Hank and tells him that an FBI agent named Neil Baxter has arrived, looking for a downed plane that may have crashed in the area. Because Jacob mentioned a plane earlier, Carl asks the brothers to assist in the search of the woods. Sarah is immediately skeptical and discovers that Baxter is actually the one who stole the money initially and is posing as an FBI agent to get the rest of the lost cash. Hank still goes with him in order to protect Carl, he brings a handgun from Carl's office as a precaution. When Carl, Baxter, Hank, and Jacob split up and head into the woods. When they find the plane, Baxter pulls a pistol, kills Carl, and demands the money from Hank. Luckily, Hank manages to kill Baxter with the gun he brought along. When Jacob arrives at the site, Hank starts to concoct another story to tell the authorities, but Jacob announces he doesn't want to live with these bad memories, and will shoot himself to end it. He encourages Hank to kill him instead and frame Baxter, so that Hank can still tell any story he wants. After grappling with the decision, Hank kills Jacob, and starts sobbing.

At the police station, Hank tells his story to real FBI agents. As Sarah predicted, no one would believe this upstanding member of the community would be capable of such wrongdoing, and he is cleared. But he gets some unexpected bad news. The money in the plane was ransom money paid to kidnappers, and before it was delivered, many of the bills' serial numbers were written down to track the cash and find whoever was using it. Hank realizes he cannot use the money without being caught and a distraught Hank goes home and burns it all against the greedy Sarah's wishes, realizing that he killed his own brother for nothing. He and Sarah go back to their old lives, now bored and miserable, and Hank reflects on their losses, remarking that they will never be normal or happy again.



A Simple Plan was met with critical acclaim, receiving a 90% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Billy Bob Thornton was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, but lost against James Coburn of Affliction. Thornton was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture, but lost against Ed Harris in The Truman Show. The film earned two thumbs up from Siskel and Ebert and is often thought of as one of Sam Raimi's best films, and an improvement upon the book it is based on.

In an article for the journal Post Script, scholar Jane Hill writes,


Box office

IMDB lists a total US box office of $16,311,763.

Home media

A Simple Plan was released as a Region 1 DVD on June 22, 1999. The film was released as a region-free blu-ray disc in Germany on November 12, 2012.

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "A_Simple_Plan_%28film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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