VIPs is the story of young Marcelo, a young man from Brazil who dreams of not being the outsider in his day to day life by actually dreaming large and putting actions behind them. Yes, he does go about achieving this, but no, not always in a legal fashion. In fact, the stuff Marcelo gets into can be considered scams by some and not legal by others. Some might say that they're the both the same thing. But are they really?
Early on as a student Marcelo is bullied by his fellow classmates and put on the spot by his teachers. Marcelo, the quick wit that he is, mimics them and humiliates them while doing so. Marcelo, along with his mother, is taken to the school's guidance counselor and he is given the familiar lecture of "if you don't change your ways you will be a loser all of your life." Once Marcelo returns home his pilot father greets him and he gives him some sound advice of going out there to find whom he truly is. Marcelo always wanted to be a pilot when he grew up, so he becomes a pilot. Like, literally.
As Marcelo journeys all over Brazil he begins to adapt to his surroundings and assuming the identities of VIPs. VIP = Very Important Person + s = Very Important Persons. Plural. That's where the hijinks ensue. Marcelo assumes the identity of a pilot, a cartel member, a rock star, a mogul, and a freedom fighter. I was just waiting for the signage of "based on actual events" to appear at the end of the credits, because nowadays even the most exaggerated scenarios seem to be based on true events.
VIPs has a lot of heart and it's a lot of fun to watch Marcelo assume all of these identities and the adulation that goes with being rich and famous. That's good. The bad are the consequences that may lead to his death or incarceration. There's that fine line of something bad happening to Marcelo and squashing his dream of being someone special. You root for the guy. Sure, he's pulling scams, but they aren't really hurting anyone, because he's not doing them to be vindictive or to play the system. He's doing this to find out who he really is. In the context of the film, it works.
If you want to make a comparison or a mash up, I would say VIPs is Catch Me If You Can meets Blow with a dash of Fight Club thrown in for good measure. VIPs also gets props for being produced by City of God and The Constant Gardner director Fernando Meirelles. VIPs is a trip worth taking.