by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Chevy Chase as HENRY PERKINS
Penelope Ann Miller as CAROL PERKINS
Armand Assante as GENERO
Robert Loggia as FELDMAN
Christopher McDonald as VIC
Studio: Starz Home Entertainment
Directed by: Leslie Grief
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Too often people forget that films, books, television and plays are all different media. What works in one may not necessarily work in another. The most common examples of this come from book adaptations. However, it seems to be even more apparent when a play is adapted into a film.
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Sure, there are your classics like “Twelve Angry Men” and “A Few Good Men.” There are also movies that have been adapted into plays and later adapted again into movies, like “The Producers,” the upcoming “Hairspray” and the inevitable “Spamalot.” However, the cinematic landscape is littered with movies that have failed after being a successful play.
Two plays that were adapted into films that received critical praise but were ignored by the public were “Closer” and “Proof.” I personally thought both stunk, and mainly this was because they had the theatre still stuck tot them.
Movies are movies, and theatre is theatre. They are arguably more different than books and movies, considering that plays must have a continuity of set, character and plot that movies don’t need. You can get away with so much more in the theatre between actors. But to bring this to the screen, there needs to be a certain amount of drive to keep the story going.
“Funny Money” was apparently a very popular play in the London West End. After many years of successful stage performances, it has been brought to the silver screen with Chevy Chase headlining the film. Unfortunately, they should have left this one on the stage.
The story follows Henry Perkins (Chevy Chase), a mild-mannered employee of a wax fruit manufacturing company, who accidentally switches briefcases with a thug on a subway. Henry soon learns that his new briefcase contains a boatload of money. Henry races home to tell his wife Carol (Penelope Ann Miller) the good news, but she has her own good news – an art gallery owner has finally shown interest in her work.
Henry wants to take the money and run, and Carol wants to stay in town to pursue her art career. Meanwhile, people are showing up for Henry’s surprise birthday party, and the Russian mob is also coming by to get their money back. At the same time, a dirty cop is blackmailing Henry while a true-blue cop is trying to solve the mystery as well.
Too much of this film falls on the shoulders of Chevy Chase, who has never quite regained his box office appeal from the mid-1980s. He’s just going through the motions in this film, and his co-stars Penelope Ann Miller and Armand Assante are trying to be funny, but failing.
I can imagine how this script played funny on stage, given the right cast. However, it just never seems to work on the movie (or rather television) screen. It has the same flavor of a screwball comedy from the 80s, but it doesn’t have the same strength in performances as, say, an episode of “Three’s Company.”
The DVD has a nice selection of special features, including a history of the play, the search for locations in Romania, a behind-the-scenes video and photo gallery.
Specifications: Dolby Digital Sound. Widescreen (1.78:1) – Enhanced for 16x9 televisions.