Friday, January 27, 2017


Directed By: Ramon Menendez 
Written By: Ramon Menendez, Tom Musca & Carol Lebowski 
Based on an article By: Mark Bowden 
Cinematography By: Newton Thomas Sigel 
Editor: Nancy Richardson 

Cast: John Cusack, Debi Mazar, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Rapaport, Michael Madsen, Maury Chaykin, James Gandolfini, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Frankie Faison, Fionnula Flanagan 

When unemployed dockworker Joey Coyle finds $1.2 million that fell off of an armored car, he decides to do the logical thing: take the money and run. After all, he says, finders keepers. He turns to his ex-girlfriend Monica, who works in an investment firm, for advice, before turning to the mob for help laundering the money. While Joey makes plans to leave the country, however, a detective is following his ever-warmer trail in order to recover the cash.

 *Please note that some trivia and facts have been republished from imdb among other sources In this review

A full non-fiction account of this story was written in 2002, titled Finders Keepers by Mark Bowden. Finders Keepers was a working title Mark Bowden used for this film, but was subsequently changed to Money For Nothing.

I remember seeing the trailer for this film. When I went to Disneyland with my late father when I was in my early teens. It was part of a presentation of exclusive trailers for their future releases. I also remember seeing FATHERHOOD with Patrick Swayze and THE PROGRAM. Though this film and FATHERHOOD. Seemed to just get released with barely any promotion or fanfare. Unless you read about them in movie magazines. Keep in mind this was before the internet. So that seeing these trailers felt like a priviledge. Until this film barely got released. It felt more like a late obligation. I had to wait until it was released On home video. Though because of the history with this film it always has a warm memory for me.

The film tries to give off a working class portrait. But it feels cliche to a degree. Whenever it's not trying to be quirky. It never quite goes for the true crime thriller aspect it seems it would naturally go to. Instead it seems the director either tried to soften it up or be more subversive trying to do something different that seems sweet, but plays off a little too false.

John Cusack really throws himself into his role here. I only wish the film was more focused and raised to the caliber of his performance. As it seems to have a tone and pace problem. Where it tries to be serious then had a sudden comedic edge. Which when serious things happen or some kind of violence or even building up tension. There is an instant relief due to the changing tone. Not really easy to take any of the situations or scenes too seriously.

The film seems like a confused movie. A hard edged story shot through a comedic lens but never settles what it wants to be. As Cusack's character gets more paranoid. The film becomes tighter, the only problem is that he always seems jumpy from even. Wrote he finds the money. The film ends up coming off like a 1950's family drama in the middle of the film also.

It's interesting to watch for all the future character actors and some bigger names either starting out or having small roles in the film. If made now it would have an all star cast considering.

Know the film is based on a true story but it feels off balance. as it is a quirky comedy one second. Then get's serious and becomes a violent drama the next. Focusing in on getting into business with career criminals and focusing on the desperation of the characters just trying to get by.

The film works when it focuses on these relationships of family and friends and the rampant betrayal that seems to keep going around. All for the sake of money. Which they all desperately need. But it seems to revolve around morals of the various characters.

Though as a film made for Touchstone/Hollywood pictures it seems it must keep it somewhat lighthearted and cheery. Even though the film has characters drinking and using drugs every once in awhile. As the film doesn't acknowledge meth addiction just showing him doing drugs later in film it seems only to stay up.

The film, changed a few things around and invented certain scenes and characters for dramatic purposes.

There was no Vinnie in real life. However, Joey Coyle did meet with a mob employee named Masi, whose father did deliver items to Laurenzi's father's business.

He was with two men, not one, when he found the money, and unlike in the film, did not stop to make sure that nobody saw him, so three people saw him find and take the money.

He did not live with his brother in real life. However, he fall through a ceiling when trying to hide the money. Other scenes with basis in reality include the policeman asking to be locked in the van to test its strength. Also He was a drug user in real life, and killed himself in 1993.

It seems more like life on the skids. It even has a brief sex scene with nudity.

It's a film that offers up wish fulfillment that shows the downside and all the trouble that goes along with it. Doesn't show how we might act, but how a certain person did. So that it feels like a film at odds with itself and it's true nature.

Grade: C

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