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Half a dozen versions of "Brewster's Millions" had been made, dating
back into the silent era, before this 1985 film. The story is based on
a 1902 novel by George B. McCutcheon. This movie, with Richard Pryor
and John Candy stacks up well with the other films. It's updated ($30
million in 1985 versus $1 million in 1945), with prices, costs and
other things being quite different. It has some novel twists and pokes
fun at New York politics. So, it succeeds overall.
Richard Pryor is very good as Monty Brewster, and most others of the cast give very good performances. But, John Candy stands out as Spike Nolan. He's a delight to watch with his frustration over Monty's not wanting to invest a little of his many millions for the future. The two have just come from nowheresville, and Spike remembers all too well that they could wind up back there. So, every time Monty hires someone for a ludicrous salary, Spike wants it to be half or less.
Except for some sparse vulgar language, this film is generally clean. The baseball scenes with Monty on the pitcher's mound and Spike behind the plate are hilarious.
Montgomery Brewster (Richard Pryor) pitches minor league ball in
Hackensack, New Jersey with his loudmouthed catcher best friend Spike
Nolan (John Candy). They get thrown in jail after a bar fight. Charley
Pegler (Jerry Orbach) let the boys go from the team. J.B. Donaldo (Joe
Grifasi) bails them out. Brewster thinks he's a scout calling them up
to the big league but instead he brings them to a reading of a Will.
Brewster is the sole heir. Rupert Horn (Hume Cronyn) has left him $300
million but only if he can spend $30 million in 30 days. He cannot own
any assets at the end and he can't tell anybody. If he fails, the
trustees' firm would gain control of the money. Angela Drake (Lonette
McKee) is a paralegal from the firm assigned to keep track of the
money. Warren Cox (Stephen Collins) is her boyfriend also from the
firm. Drake doesn't know the real deal but Cox is eventually let in on
the deal and convinced to sabotage Brewster's efforts. What seems easy
at first turns out to be much harder to do.
I love both John Candy and Richard Pryor. Pryor smooths out his rough edges to play in this PG movie. It's a bland comedy without any big laughs. Director Walter Hill just doesn't have the comedic skills to maximize his leading comedians. I still like the characters. Pryor is straight-jacketed here. John Candy is trying his best. It's a sweet movie. It's just not that funny.
A few days after seeing the 1945 Brewster's Millions, I finally watched the remake that was released 40 years later. It starred Richard Pryor as Monty Brewster, here a minor league baseball player who sees film of his late grandpa (Hume Cronyn) who tells him the conditions of his will. John Candy is Pryor's baseball buddy, Lonette McKee-who previously co-starred with him in Which Way is Up?-is his accountant, Candy's "SCTV" co-star Rick Moranis is someone who likes to repeat whatever someone next to him says, and David White-who I remember as Larry Tate on "Bewitched"-is one of the executers of the will. This wasn't as funny as the previous version I watched but I still had some good laughs watching Pryor, Candy, Moranis, and some of the changes in some scenes. So on that note, this version of Brewster's Millions is worth a look.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
With a friend having greatly enjoyed a DVD of the 1988 Comedy film
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels that I gave her for a Birthday present,I
started searching around for Comedy movies with a similar feel,which
she could enjoy watching on the upcoming May Bank Holiday.Frantically
searching round online,I suddenly remembered a fun looking Comedy which
I had seen 30 minutes of on TV around 10 or so years ago!,which led to
me deciding that it was about time to fully witness Brewster count out
Heading out to a bar to celebrate their (minor league) baseball team the Hackensack Bull's latest win,star team mates Montgomery 'Monty' Brewster and Spike Nolan quickly get into a fight with fellow customers at the bar,and end up getting sent to jail.Being left completely speechless at their bail hearing (where the judge sets the bail amount at a level that they can never afford)by a stranger sitting in the court who announces that he will pay their full bail cost,the stranger tells Nolan and Brewster that they both must visit a law firm that he's working for called Granville & Baxter.
Attending a private film screening at the law firm whilst Nolan is ordered to wait outside,Brewster discovers that he has a recently diseased great- uncle called Robert Horn who he never knew existed.On the film,Horn reveals that due to him being the only surviving relative,that Brewster has a chance to get his full savings.
Not wanting to give Brewster an easy shot at the money,Horn tells Brewster that he has 2 options:1-he can accept 1 million and allow the rest of Horn's $300 million estate to go to the law firm,or he can go for option 2,which is that he must spend 30 million over 30 days in order to get the 300,but must not tell anyone where the 30 came from,or buy any items that he can keep.Initially being tempted by the $1 million offer,Brewster decides that he is going to instead try and hit a home run,and go straight for the $300 million jackpot.
View on the film:
Despite the Universal full-frame DVD taking away some of its jazzy style,director Walter Hill and cinematographer Ric Waite (who had both earlier worked together on the movie 48 Hours) dazzling style is still able to shine,thanks to Waite and Hill showing the contrasting appearances between Brewster's faded and dusty Minor League Baseball lifestyle,with the high-end,crystal clear one that he finds himself suddenly forced in.
For their adaptation of George Barr McCutcheon's novel,the screenplay by Timothy Harris and Herschel Weingrod takes some delicious swipes at the 'greed is good' attitude that was starting to strike at the time,with the writers brilliantly showing the insane amount of influence Brewster can get,just by chucking money at anything that moves. Smartly deciding not to make the film be a sheer display of excess,the writers keep the movie strongly rooted to Brewster's blue collar big ground,which despite stopping the movie from fully tipping into the over exaggeration that it delightfully seemed to be heading towards,does allow the viewer to feel the full force of what has landed on Brewster's shoulders.
Entering the movie without a dime in his pockets,Richard Pryor gives a highly spirited performance as Brewster,with Pryor showing Brewster holding his working class background dearly,even as he's desperately trying to spend cash left,right and centre.Joining Pryor,John Candy gives an excellent performance as Nolan,with Candy giving the movie a shot of lightning every time he gleefully sets his sights on cash,as Brewster discover who really wants to be a millionaire.
The down-on-luck baseball player Brewster (Richard Pryor) is about to
have his life drastically changed after being the sole heir of a big
fortune. But in order to get the millions of dollars he's forced to
spend U$30 million in the period of a month without getting having any
properties or certain things to himself or wasting money away, those
are the rules given to him. AND he can't say to anybody what's he
"Brewster's Millions" is all about showing how difficult is Pryor's mission. So what does he do? He hires people of any kind paying them with a lot of money, buys an iceberg and the most expensive stamp of all, run as a mayor, among other things. He's closely followed by his best friend (John Candy), an accountant (Lonette McKee) from the bank, and also a colleague of her whose mission is to make Brewster lose this "game" and let the money stay in the bank.
Despite the great premise, the problem is that "Brewster's Millions" is never so much funny like it could have been. Constantly talky, very noisy but with a great pace, the film's weakest attribute (but it can be viewed as its best, in a way) is making the small characters to have the funniest parts of the show while the comic giants are only allowed to exceed themselves, or to have just a bunch of punchlines. Examples: Rick Moranis, playing the greatest impersonator of all and Joe Grifasi, playing Brewster's "personal photographer", they both offer such an enjoyable good time for us, more rewarding than all the fuzzy events with Pryor's character.
Treated like an Frank Capra's comedy, or even the humor of the Marx Brothers classic or dynamic as "Trading Places" (released on the same decade as this one) this could be far more impressive. "Brewster's Millions" deals with ethics, moral, the money's importance in people's lives and manages to be a little funny. The greatest thing is that it touched some poignant themes but it never got too serious or tacky (sure, Brewster understands even under contradictory circumstances, that even with all that money he gets he doesn't necessary feel better about it), it simply stick to the cheerful comedy with plenty of humor.
New territory for action director Walter Hill ("Warriors", "Streets of Fire"), exploring humored situations rather than explosions and fights, he stayed firm the rhythm presented in his works, very fast and well-constructed, with no time to waste. One moment changes to another without making us lose interest.
Above anything it's a pleasant film for any moment. Low your expectations without finding the same Richard Pryor of classics like "Stir Crazy" or Silver Streak" and you'll be greatly rewarded. At least, this is one of his good moments. 7/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Montgomery Brewster (Richard Pryor) is a replacement pitcher for a New
Jersey baseball team. He and his friend Spike Nolan (John Candy) have
dreams of joining the big league, but the problem is that nobody is
interested in them. Everything hits rock bottom when they are locked up
in gaol for brawling and are not bailed out by their coach. But a
strange guy pops up, bails them out and takes them to New York City
where Monty is brought into an office alone where three lawyers sit.
Here he learns that he has inherited a lot of money, but there is a
catch. His great uncle doesn't want him to be taken for a ride, but
rather he wants him to use the money wisely, so he says that he has
thirty days to spend thirty million dollars. If he makes it then he
gets three hundred million, but if he fails he gets nothing. At the end
of the thirty days he is allowed no assets, he can only give 5% away to
charity and can only loose 5% gambling. When hiring people he can only
get his money's worth. Nor can he tell anybody about it. As such he has
to get rid of all of the money while everybody else is trying to get
him to save it.
This movie is based on earlier movies and the critics did not like this one that much. I have not seen the earlier movies (though would like to) but I enjoyed this movie. Richard Pryor and John Candy are both good, clean actors and comedians and the jokes are seriously funny in this one. It is quite amusing watching his friends wonder why Monty gets upset when he earns money and is joyous when he looses money.
The whole purpose of this is to force Monty to get so sick of spending money that he won't blow away the money that his great uncle has earned. The lawyers want the money because if Monty fails then they get the 300 million. They don't think Monty can do it though, but when it seems like he is succeeding, they get scared and try to defraud him out of $20,000 so that they still get the money. Thus it becomes a competition with very high stakes. Monty looses nothing if he fails, but if the lawyers fail then they can be up for fraud.
The interesting thing about it also is how people all come to bludge off Monty for the money. People swarm around him wanting jobs and simply money, and others try to swindle him, but Monty doesn't care. The fortunate thing is that when he wins, everybody is going to think that he is broke and they are not going to bother him anymore, while Brewster sits on millions of dollars. His friend Spike and the security guard show their friendship by collecting money for him after, so we can see beyond the movie that Brewster will remember them for their generosity.
The cleverest thing Brewster did was run for mayor and then withdrawal at the last minute. This was a very fortunate occurrence that there was a mayoral election on at that time, because it would have been very difficult to get rid of it otherwise. The clever thing though was buying a very expensive stamp and then mailing it. It was this action that worried the lawyers and made them act against him.
The critics did not like this movie but I do. This is a clever movie and Pryor and Candy are decent actors. Candy plays a good friend who is always there for Brewster and we know that this friendship will last even though Brewster has become a millionaire.
Favourite Quote: Spike to Monty when they are in gaol: I don't think this is a race thing because I'm in here too (its funny to me since having seen Hanging with the Homeboys a few days earlier).
Prior is at his manic best in this simple comedy. His journey from zero to financial hero shows viewers that Herschel Weingrod's original material requires a honed performance to ensure that the narrative is not lost behind the highest of concepts. Prior allows his comic timing to be teased by director Hill while displaying far more emotion than had been allowed in Siver Streak or Superman III. With a supporting cast of America's finest comedians of the time one can not help but be drawn in to the duplicitous life of Montgomery Brewster's one shot at greatness. A must for any fan of the sort of farces responsible for shaping the cinema of the Cohens and Farrellys.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the many adaptations of the famous novel and perhaps the best. Monty Brewster, played superbly by Richard Pryor, gets into a fight after pitching in a little league baseball game. When in court a man bails him out and takes him to a firm of accountants where he finds out a very rich relative has died. However, in order to inherit 300 million dollars he has to spend 30 million dollars in 30 days and have nothing to show for it. This is of course far more difficult than it looks. The fun really starts as he tries to spend it and finds it to be a lot harder than it sounds. The partners at the Accounting firm want him to fail so they can get their hands on the money and set a trap for him. I won't ruin the end but I always watch this when it is on and always laugh. Excellent entertainment.
While Brewster's Millions is not a perfect movie by all means, but it
is a bright and breezy film that does have its heart in the right
place. Also, as far as comedies go it is not one of the most defining
films of the genre, but to be a good movie Brewster's Millions didn't
need to be that.
As I have said already, Brewster's Millions is not a perfect film. The plot is on the predictable and simple side and I can understand why one might find it bizarre too with its concept and all though I did find it refreshing in a sense on the other side of the argument. The ending feels rather abrupt and could have been rounded off better, and also while others may be divided on whether to perceive this as a flaw, Brewster's Millions does have a theme that is firmly rooted in the 80s which may date it slightly.
However, it is nicely filmed, with striking locations and nice cinematography and editing, while the soundtrack is nicely 80s without dating the film. The film does work in its humour, the script is funny without the need to be too sophisticated and smart, while the odd situation also made me chuckle. The direction is good enough, the film is paced well and it is a good length. And although the story is quite simple, there is enough material to engage throughout, and a lot of it is to do with the fun chemistry between Richard Pryor and John Candy. Pryor I can find loud and unfunny at times, and other times where he is a lot of fun, his performance here is the latter and it does help that his character and most of the characters here are likable, while Candy really does shine. There is also a hilarious cameo from Rick Moranis and Jerry Orbach is always good value.
All in all, Brewster's Millions is a fun film with heart even if there are parts/aspects that could have done with more work. 7/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What I love about this film is that it teaches us to avoid greed and excess while giving us a good laugh at the same time. Made in the context of Gordon Gecko's 'Greed is good' philosophy of the 1980's, its lessons are just as relevant today as we face the economic disaster caused by the selfishness and greed of many of our financial institutions. Brewster finds that friendship, loyalty, honesty and generosity of the heart are far more valuable than the promise of material riches. John Candy's flawed yet redeeming character reminds us that we are all vulnerable to temptation but we don't have to succumb to it. I see Richard Pryor's Brewster join Orson Wells' Charles Foster Kane in his search for Rosebud. Unlike Kane, Brewster's search is more successful. Like all good comedy this film not only entertains us with laughter but also offers us insight into the human condition.
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