Money for Nothing

January 7, 2013 at 6:35 pm Leave a comment

If Money For Nothing is remember for anything it’s the star studded cast before any of them were really well known. This movie has John Cusack, Michael Madsen, Benico Del Turo, Michael Rapaport, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and James Gandolifini. One would think this were an Oscar award winner based on the cast alone. If there is a problem with this movie, and I don’t think there is, it’s that watching it in 2012 with that kind of line up gives one an inflated sense of expectations. Money For Nothing is mearly good when it could have been so much more.

 

Money For Nothing is about a down on his luck ordinary shulb from South Philadelphia named Joey Coyle, played by John Cusack. He’s a 26 year old day labor dockworker whose brother only periodically gives him work. The brother is played by James Gandolifini, who was very good with what he was given but really doesn’t have a big part in this movie. After an unsuccessful day of not working, Joey and his friend Kenny drive around looking for something to do. Joey stumbles across a container with 1.2 million dollars. Kenny encourages him to turn it in. Joey decides to keep it. Detective Michael Madsen is put on the case. He is just kind of there in this movie. Not that he was good or bad. It really felt like his character could have had more to do. The Detective’s roll is mostly to follow the trail we see Joey Coyle leave behind due to his recklessness. In the end I suspect there was suppose to be tension with Joey trying to leave the country and Detective Madsen hot on his trail. The thing is Joey’s so obviously suspicious anyone could tell he is guilty of something, anything. This is played for laughs, and largely is well done, but it doesn’t really help the dramatic conclusion. Joey isn’t getting away with anything the way he is carrying on.

 

Money For Nothing is based on a true story. It feels pretty accurate as far as what would happen if a working class individual were to find a lot of money. John Cusack plays the role really well. He comes off as an out of work, hard drinking, chain smoking South Philadelphia guy. He really doesn’t know what to do with all this money and has a hard time keeping it a secret. First, he hints around what he has found with his exgirlfriend, who works at an investment firm and wants nothing to do with him. Then he buys everyone in the neighborhood a drink, getting the attention of a local mobster played by Benico Del Turo. Joey makes a deal with the mob to launder his money but its pretty obvious he is in over his head. Slowly but surely all of Philadelphia knows he found the money. I’m fairly sure this would have happened to most people. That’s the idea behind the character. He is an every man. A common theme running throughout the movie is people in the background talking about what they would do with the money. One lady says she would see a dentist. That’s remarkable because another theme of the movie is the plight of the working poor. Joey’s dad passed away sometime ago and it sounds like he worked himself to death without a penny in his pocket. What a lot of people want out of a million dollars really is pretty simple. Even Joey doesn’t seem to have a plan for the money he has found. Yet trying to keep the money pretty much drives him mad. The only people who insist on giving the money back are Joey’s brother and Kenny. Joey’s brother is interesting. He is a foreman at the docks. He doesn’t give his brother steady work so it doesn’t look like he plays favorites. But he does give him a tuna sandwich, which Joey splits with Kenny. The sandwich is more celery than tuna. To me, that is the perfect analogy for being poor.

 

I don’t really know what to make of this movie other than to say I liked it. It’s listed as a comedy but its not strictly a comedy. There are some good line and humorous moments but it doesn’t keep that kind of tone. It’s not exactly a working class drama because there really isn’t much in the way of heavy drama. I would recommend the movie to just about anyone but it’s not exactly a must see. It’s a good movie that could have been great if they had just tightened up the focus a little more. They may have stuck a little close to the true story, it’s hard to say. I will say give it a watch and I hope you enjoy it.

 

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