Friday April 14, 2000
"Where the Money Is" takes its title from a famous reply legendary thief Willie Sutton gave when he was asked why he robbed banks. However, crooks would be ill-advised to stick up the box offices at theaters where this tepid caper comedy is playing, for the take is not likely to be worth the risk. Not all the star power of Paul Newman, backed strongly by Linda Fiorentino and Dermot Mulroney, can pull off this job.
Caper comedies--films that take a humorous approach to the old heist plot--are not exactly the rage, but director Marek Kanievska and his writers don't take into account that we're not still in the '60s. The only way the film could have had a prayer of working--and thereby tapping its stars' considerable strengths--is by taking a much harder edge and going for dark, even bleak humor. Instead, they turn the picture into a kind of good-natured romp.
The possibilities for a much tougher, better picture are there. Our first glimpse of Newman as Henry is of a paralyzed, mute and virtually comatose old convict in a wheelchair arriving from prison for treatment at a nursing home. When Fiorentino's Carol, his nurse, discovers that Henry is a legendary thief, she starts dreaming of ill-gotten gains--if only she can get Henry to snap out of it.
Carol is a dutiful, kindly but bored professional who was queen of her high school prom. She married its king, Mulroney's Wayne, but life has been downhill ever since when it comes to glamour and excitement. Wayne, in contrast, is settled and content in his quiet small-town existence. Wayne may be a sensible yet sexy guy devoted to his wife, but that's not enough for Carol, who fears that she may end up in a nursing home herself without ever having "lived."
Newman is so skilled an actor that it comes as a genuine surprise that Henry is faking a stroke as a way of escaping prison. By the time Henry emerges in Newman's usual fit and vigorous form, Carol is determined to become his partner in whatever criminal activity he may have in mind. Newman, Fiorentino and Mulroney are all consistently sharp, but their material becomes progressively thin and contrived.
If only Fiorentino had a chance to bring more of that lethal quality she brought so memorably to "The Last Seduction's" villainess, "Where the Money Is" might have been a different story and a much more enjoyable film.
Where the Money Is, 2000. PG-13, for some sexual content. A USA Films release. Director Marek Kanievska. Producers Ridley Scott, Charles Weinstock, Chris Zarpas, Christopher Dorr. Executive producers Tony Scott, Guy East, Nigel Sinclair, Chris Sievernich, Moritz Borman. Screenplay by E. Max Frye and Topper Lilien & Carroll Cartwright. Cinematographer Thomas Burstyn. Music Mark Isham. Costumes Francesca Chamberland. Production designer Andre Chamberland. Art director Martin Gendron. Set designer Jean-Pierre Paquet. Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes. Forest Whitaker as Ghost Dog. John Tormey as Louie. Sonny Valerio as Cliff Gorman. Frank Minucci as Big Angie. Richard Portnow as Handsome Frank. Tricia Vessey as Louise Vargo. Henry Silva as Ray Vargo. Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich. Albert Finney as Ed Masry. Aaron Eckhart as George. Marg Helgenberger as Donna Jensen. Cherry Jones as Pamela Duncan. Peter Coyote as Kurt Potter. Shane West as Ryan. Jodi Lyn O'Keefe as Ashley. Marla Sokoloff as Maggie. Richard Schiff as Gym coach. Aaron Paul as Floyd. Chris Klein as Kelley. Leelee Sobieski as Samantha. Josh Hartnett as Jasper. Michael Rooker as Jasper's father. Roshan Seth as Gustad Noble. Om Puri as Ghulam. Soni Razdan as Dilnavaz Noble. Naseeruddin Shah as Jimmy Bilimoria. Margherita Buy as Caterina. Silvio Orlando as Ernesto. Carolina Freschi as Teresa. Alessandro di Natale as Gabriele. Billy Crudup as Fielding Pierce. Jennifer Connelly as Sarah Williams. Janet McTeer as Caroline Pierce. Hal Holbrook as Isaac Green. Cameron Van Hoy as Stevie. Mischa Barton as Rocky. Burt Reynolds as Daniel Bender. Adam Farrar as Wheelchair Man. Nancho Novo as Max. Cayetana Guillen Cuervo as Monica. Ingrid Rubio as Yeye. Beatriz Santiago as Maria. Gustavo Salmeron as Alberto. Mohsen Ramezani as Mohammad. Hossein Mahjub as Hashem. Salime Feizi as Granny. Elham Sharim as Hanyeh. Farahnaz Safari as Bahareh. Aidan Gillen as Francis. Emmanuelle Seigner as Gloria. Susan Tyrrell as Sal. Mark Boone Jr. as Vic. Joshua Jackson as Luke McNamara. Paul Walker as Caleb Mandrake. Hill Harper as Will Beckford. Leslie Bibb as Chloe. Craig T. Nelson as Litten Mandrake. Jimmy Smits as Arturo Ortega. Maria Del Mar as Rita Ortega. Jon Seda as Sonny Ortega. Clifton Collins Jr. as Jimmy Ortega. Ernesto Hernandez as Johnny Ortega. Ron Perlman as Nick Everson. John Cusack as Rob. Iben Hjejle as Laura. Todd Louiso as Dick. Jack Black as Barru. Lisa Bonet as Marie De Salle. Catherine Zeta-Jones as Charlie. Voice Talent as . Kevin Kline as Tulio. Kenneth Branagh as Miguel. Rosie Perez as Chel. Armand Assante as Tzekel-Kan. Edward James Olmos as The Chief. Scott Caan as Scotty. Robert Downey Jr. as Terry. Stacy Edwards as Sheila. Gaby Hoffman as Raven. Jeanie Dryden as Patsy. Linal Haft as Vic. Russell Dykstra as Bo. Genevieve Lemon as Josie. Sacha Horler as Nadia. Alicia Talbot as Vera. Rachel Griffiths as Pamela Drury. David Roberts as Robert Dickson. Sandy Winton as Ben. Yael Stone as Stacey. Floriane Daniel as Rebecca. Heino Ferch as Marco. Ulrich Matthes as Rene. Marie-Lou Sellem as Laura. Josef Bierbichler as Theo. Sandrine Bonnaire as Marie. Oleg Menchikov as Alexei. Catherine Deneuve as Gabrielle. Sergei Bodrov Jr. as Sacha. David Arquette as Gordie. Scott Caan as Sean. Oliver Platt as Jimmy King. Bill Goldberg as Goldberg. Rose McGowan as Sasha. David Duchovny as Bob Rueland. Minnie Driver as Grace Briggs. Carroll O'Connor as Marty O'Reilly. Robert Loggia as Angelo Pardipillo. Ian Holm as Joe Gould. Stanley Tucci as Joseph Mitchell. Patricia Clarkson as Vivian Marquie. Hope Davis as Therese Mitchell. Susan Sarandon as Alice Neel. Tommy Lee Jones as Col. Hays Hodges. Samuel L. Jackson as Col. Terry Childers. Guy Pearce as Maj. Mark Biggs. Bruce Greenwood as William Sokal. Blair Underwood as Capt. Lee. Ben Kingsley as Ambassador Mourain. Paul Newman as Henry. Linda Fiorentino as Carol. Dermot Mulroney as Wayne.