Bill Forsyth is the master of the small gesture, closely observed, which reveals the personalities of his characters. He doesn't deal in big-scale plots and actors who shout a lot, but goes instead for the comedy that can be found in the way people cover up their weaknesses and distrust their strengths. Forsyth's "Local Hero" - that understated little masterpiece about a small Scottish town and a big American oil company - was recently voted one of the top 10 films of the 1980s, in a poll in Premiere magazine. "Breaking In" is not that good, but it has some of the same qualities, especially in the way the characters play their own games by their own rules.
The movie stars Burt Reynolds as a 60-ish house burglar who works alone, quietly and competently. One night while he is attacking the wall safe in a prosperous suburban home, he meets another break-in artist: a teenage kid (Casey Siemaszko) who came in through the upstairs window simply so he could raid the refrigerator, look through people's mail and watch a little TV.
In the Forsyth universe, people don't question reality. They accept a situation and begin to see what they can get out of it.
Reynolds thinks he may be able to use the kid in a big job he has been considering - a burglary of the entire Fourth of July haul at an amusement park. The kid thinks, hey, why not? So they become partners.