Wednesday, May 30, 2007

For Love or Money...not much of either

For Love or Money - Barry Sonnenfeld - 1993 - 4/10


Doug Ireland (Michael J. Fox) is a concierge of a New York City hotel but has designs on opening his own hotel - a hotel on Roosevelt Island he had to scrape all his savings for. To make some extra money Doug has been scalping tickets and taking big tips and doing anything and everything to make his hotel happen. However, for some reason, the nature of his purchase forces him to act on the hotel within a few months or he will lose everything. His only hope seems to be Christian Hannover (Anthony Higgins), a wealthy frequenter of Doug's hotel. Christian seems to weigh the options on the deal and makes appearances as if to help Doug and makes it out that if Doug helps him keep his mistress Andy (Gabrielle Anwar) busy, maybe Christian can help Doug out. Doug seems happy to oblige as he thinks Andy is the most beautiful girl in the world - and Doug's dream girl. As things plod on Doug seems to become more jealous of Christian's girl than of Christian's wealth yet Doug is paralyzed to do anything because he needs Christian to weather an untimely IRS audit into his finances. As he begins to see the real side of both Christian and Andy, Doug needs to decide if he wants to life his life for love, or money (I know that was corny, but I had to do it).


Sonnenfeld has an eclectic resume - bringing us the "Adams Family" movies, "Men in Black", "RV" and "Get Shorty." While "Get Shorty" invented a new kind of comedy and "Men in Black" invented a new kind of blockbuster, you would be correct in thinking Sonnenfeld doesnt know which way he wants to go in the genre spectrum. This movie can't decide whether to go for slapstick comedy or traditional rom-com motions. Instead it sort of murks in between soaking up the worst of both worlds. For the most part there is little to no character development - even by rom-com standards - and elements like Doug's ticket scalping business get little screen time or explanation. Situations and lines make you cringe at how fake they seem and without Michal J. Fox's traditional you-love-me-because-i'm-trying-so-hard-to-do-so-many-things-but-i-think-you're-the-thing-i want role, the movie would be extremely flat. Gabrielle Anwar doesn't give MJF much help and its little wonder she's stuck doing "The Librarian" tv movies because while her beauty is right on, her acting is weak. Anthony Figgins however turns in a great performance as a slimey mover and shaker who somehow always manages to squeak by. However, all around it seems like the naivete of the main characters is astounding - where is the cynicism Sonnenfeld so well appreciates in "Get Shorty" or the sharp wit he executes in that movie and "Men in Black"?


If it's on your TV, turn your TV off.

If you liked this movie, watch...
...Doc Hollywood
...The Secret of My Success

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